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ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
Updated: 2 hours 13 min ago

Wuerl was not informed about McCarrick settlements, DC letter claims

Sat, 07/28/2018 - 11:54

Washington D.C., Jul 28, 2018 / 09:54 am (CNA).- A letter sent this week to priests of the Archdiocese of Washington claims that Cardinal Donald Wuerl did not know until recently about settlements made by two New Jersey dioceses in response to allegations misconduct on the part of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

"Neither the Archdiocese of Washington nor Cardinal Wuerl knew about these confidential settlements until this most recent credible and substantiated allegation against Cardinal McCarrick was made public," said the July 25 letter, sent to Washington priests by archdiocesan vicar general Monsignor Charles Antonicelli.

"For clarity, the Archdiocese of Washington did not participate in, make any contributions to, nor was invovlved in any way with these settlement agreements," the letter added.

The settlements in questions were reached in 2005 and 2007 by the Diocese of Metuchen,  the Archdiocese of Newark, and two men who claim they were sexually assualted by McCarrick while they were seminarians and young priests.

McCarrick was Bishop of Metuchen from 1981-1986, Archbishop of Newark from 1986-2000, and Archbishop of Washington from 2000-2006. Wuerl succeeded McCarrick in Washington and is the current Archbishop of Washington.

The first settlement took place while McCarrick was still Archbishop of Washington, and the second was reached after Wuerl had taken the helm of that archdiocese. Neither settlement, according to Antonicelli's letter, was reported to Wuerl.

The letter also said that the Vatican is "overseeing any further decisions," regarding McCarrick, and added that "our offices are aware only of the same information regarding these allegations that you are seeing in media reports...We know from past experience with failings of the Church, that this is not an issue that will simply fade away."

Wuerl, according to the letter, encouraged anyone with information regardin abuse of harrassement to "bring it forward as soon as possible so that it may be promptly and fully investigated."

Sources close to the Archdiocese of Washington have also told CNA that Wuerl was not informed of settlements until June, when a substantial and credible allegation of child sexual abuse against McCarrick was made public.

In recent weeks, McCarrick has faced several additional allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct, including charges that he pressured seminarians and priests into sexual relationships, and an another reported allegation that he had a serially sexually abusive relationship with a child.

On July 28, Pope Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals, and consigned him to a period of prayer and penance until a canonical process regarding the investigations is concluded. McCarrick is 88.

 

 

 

 

 

Pa. Supreme Court orders release of redacted grand jury report

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 19:20

Harrisburg, Pa., Jul 27, 2018 / 05:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday ordered that a redacted version of a grand jury report detailing sex abuse in six of the state's eight Catholic dioceses be released next month.

News outlets, victims, and the state attorney general have pressed for the release of the report.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had stayed the release of the report June 20, after numerous individuals named in the report objected to its release, citing concerns of due process and reputational rights guaranteed by the state constitution.

Lawyers for the media outlets requesting the report's release have said a redacted version could be released to respond to those concerns, while the court considers challenges to the full report's release.

The court's July 27 order effectively adopted that suggestion.

“The Commonwealth is directed to prepare a redacted version of Report 1, which removes specific and contextual references to any petitioner who has an appellate challenge pending before this Court,” read the opinion of the supreme court.

Petitioners who have appeals pending with the court can appeal over the redactions by Aug. 7. If no challenges are made, the interim report and responses are to be publicly released by Aug. 8; but if challenges are made, the public release of the redacted report can be delayed until Aug. 14.

The supreme court wrote that the grand jury had undertaken “the salutary task of exposing alleged child sexual abuse and concealment of such abuse, on an extraordinarily large scale, which the grand jurors have pronounced was perpetrated by trusted members of a religious institution.”

“Thus, the grand jury submitted a report for publication specifically finding that more than 300 people, identified by name, committed criminal and/or morally reprehensible conduct,” the supreme court wrote.

“Ideally, living persons so identified would have been afforded the opportunity to appear before the grand jury and to respond, in some reasonable fashion, to the grand jury’s concerns. For those among the present challengers who were denied such opportunity, and who otherwise have submitted proper appeals seeking the remedy of a pre-deprivation hearing, we hold that they are entitled to this Court’s further consideration of whether additional process can and should now be provided as a curative measure.”

Oklahoma celebrates the first feast day of Blessed Stanley Rother

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 19:00

Oklahoma City, Okla., Jul 27, 2018 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- On Saturday, parishes across Oklahoma will celebrate the first feast day of the first U.S. born martyr, Blessed Stanley Rother, marking the 37 anniversary of his death.

Special masses, relic veneration services, and other events will take place throughout the Oklahoma City-area on the weekend of July 28. Catholics from Guatemala, where Rother served as a priest and was killed, are expected to attend.

His feast day will be celebrated in churches in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the Diocese of Tulsa, and the Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas.

The first Catholic Church dedicated to Rother is located in Decatur, Arkansas, and was dedicated shortly after Rother’s beatification.

The Diocese of Sololá-Chimaltenango, where the priest served the native people of Guatemala for 13 years, will also celebrate the feast day.

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City has prepared readings for churches to use in honor of Blessed Stanley Rother.

The Heritage Gallery of the Oklahoma archdiocese was open to facilitate pilgrimages throughout the month of July. The gallery also includes a museum with Rother artifacts and information on the life of the martyr.

On July 28, a special Mass will be celebrated at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church. Here, relics and medals of Rother will be given to members of the martyr’s family. Another Mass will be led by Archbishop Coakley later that evening at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Okarche, the martyr’s hometown.

Other churches and pastoral centers will host prayers services, including times to venerate a first-class relic of Rother at St Francis de Sales Chapel on Saturday and Sunday. The church’s gift shop will feature Blessed Rother’s medals, prayer cards, and posters.

Last September, more than 20,000 people attended a beatification Mass in downtown Oklahoma City, making Blessed Rother the first U.S. born martyr to be officially beatified. Pope Francis approved Rother’s martyrdom in December 2016.

In 1968, the Oklahoma priest arrived at his Guatemala parish in Santiago Atitlan, a poor rural community of mostly indigenous people.

As a missionary priest, Blessed Rother was called on to say Mass, but also to fix the broken truck or work the fields. He built a farmers' co-op, a school, a hospital, and the first Catholic radio station, which was used for catechesis to the even more remote villages.

Over the years, the violence of the Guatemalan civil war inched closer to the once-peaceful village. Disappearances, killings and danger soon became a part of daily life, but Fr. Stanley remained steadfast and supportive of his people.

In 1981, armed men broke into his rectory, intending to abduct him. He resisted and struggled, but did not call for help, so others at the mission would not be endangered. He was shot twice and killed.

“He is a model of priestly holiness and fidelity. He came from an ordinary home and a small town, growing up on a farm where he learned to work hard. He knew the importance of family and community,” said Archbishop Coakley in a July 25 press release.  

“He placed all his natural gifts and talents at the service of his priestly ministry and missionary endeavors. With so many challenges facing our priests today, here is a priest we can embrace and celebrate – the shepherd who didn’t run.”

 

How CRS is changing life for disabled children in Vietnam

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 18:54

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Jul 27, 2018 / 04:54 pm (CNA).- Life used to be very isolated for Ho Ngoc Linh, an 11-year-old girl living in central Vietnam.

She lived at home with her family and went to school with her peers. But she could never make the connections she wanted - and needed - because she was deaf.

“If you can imagine; you’re 11 years old, you aren’t able to communicate with your family or your friends or your teachers, you can’t hear anything,” said Leia Isanhart, a senior technical advisor for Catholic Relief Services.

“That’s going to be pretty frustrating. Especially as you get into this adolescent age.”

But Linh’s world shifted this year when she became one of the more than 5,400 children to benefit from Catholic Relief Services’ programs for children and adults with disabilities in Vietnam.

In February, Catholic Relief Services paired Linh with a speech therapist who taught her to read lips. Lip reading was the best option for Linh because her hearing loss was too profound for a hearing aid and nobody in Linh’s community knows sign language.

Linh attends a government-run school where neither her peers nor her teacher know how to communicate with her. But when Linh returns home, her speech therapist helps her to practice lip reading while reviewing lessons from the classroom.

When Linh began speech therapy in February, she was completely nonverbal. By June, she was making dozens of sounds.

“That’s a huge jump...she’s a very bright girl,” Isanhart said.

Isanhart visited Linh’s home in the Thang Bing district of Vietnam’s Quang Nam province in June. She said Linh’s new skills have transformed the 11-year-old’s home life.

Isanhart said Linh’s parents seem less frustrated, because they are finally able to effectively communicate with their daughter. Linh’s parents also have more support thanks to a parent association organized by CRS for parents of children with disabilities. Parents meet in their neighborhoods to learn positive parenting skills and techniques to handle common behavioral challenges, Isanhart said.

“We’re giving these families and children access to speech therapy that then is opening up their world and helping them to communicate,” Isanhart said. “That lessens some of the frustrations within the home.”

But Linh was also making meaningful connections with other children in her neighborhood.

During her visit in June, Isanhart watched as Linh’s speech therapist gathered Linh, Linh’s siblings and several neighbor children into a circle. The therapist then lead all the children in several popular Vietnamese games.

In one game, the children repeated one word while pointing to the object that word defined. Linh was able to look at her siblings and peers to see what that sound or word looked like on the lips of different people while also making associations between the words and the objects they described.  

“Promoting social inclusion through play; it was quite impressive,” Isanhart said.

Linh’s story is just one of thousands from Catholic Relief Services’ long-running program for children and adults with disabilities in Vietnam.

CRS, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary of service this year, has several projects in Vietnam; including tracking unexploded landmines from the Vietnam War, disaster risk reduction and a clean water initiative. But Julie Keane, CRS’ country manager for Vietnam, said work with children and adults with disabilities is CRS’ flagship project in the country.

For more than 20 years, CRS has worked to offer direct services to people like Linh and her family, while also advocating for large-scale changes to make life in Vietnam more welcoming to those with disabilities. Their work ranges from providing ramps and handrails at schools to programs training children with disabilities to recognize and report abusive behavior.

“It’s kind of that dual approach that is really successful and helpful because you’re not just delivering a service that then is done when we’re done, but it’s really changing the overall system of support for children and adults with disabilities,” Keane said.

CRS is also introducing this year organized play and organized sports for the disabled in Vietnam. Through a partnership with the Special Olympics, CRS was able to host an inclusive soccer match and bocce ball competition this June for 100 children with disabilities and dozens of their peers.

“There are so many benefits that come to the child’s development through sport,” Isanhart said. “We’ll be tracking the benefits to all the kids who are playing together and forging friendships between kids.”

CRS’ ultimate goal is to empower communities to organize inclusive sports clubs, Isanhart said. The provinces that hosted the June events procured more than $800 in donations from members of the community.

“It was really great to see the buy-in of so many stakeholders from within the community to support these kids to have the opportunity to play and build their friendships through organized sport,” Isanhart said.  

For Keane, CRS’ program for the disabled in Vietnam is one of the most life-changing programs she has seen in her more than a decade with the Catholic aid agency.

“In Vietnam, it (having a disabled child) is still truly very much still a stigma and so often parents don’t go and get help for their children...and that early intervention is so important,” she said.

“I think for us - for CRS - it’s really about ensuring that all human beings have a life that has value and that the most vulnerable are not left behind. There’s still a lot of work to be done … we are making progress on de-stigmatizing life for people with disabilities but there’s still a ways to go.”

The genius of woman: Redefining the strong, independent woman

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 18:00

Denver, Colo., Jul 27, 2018 / 04:00 pm (CNA).-  Today CNA says farewell to our summer intern, Lizzy Joslyn. In her final week at CNA this summer, Lizzy offered "The Genius of Woman," a four-part series of interviews and profiles, based on Pope St. John Paul II's "Letter to Women," and interviews with seven Catholic women from very different walks of life. Today, she offers her own commentary on the "feminine genius."

As a young woman immersed in popular culture, especially via social media, I have heard--and often joined--the battle cry for women to be “strong” and “independent.”

Taken at face value, these are great qualities to possess. Of course, every woman--every person--should strive to be strong and independent.

But what exactly do those words mean in the context of some modern feminist viewpoints? I’d like to pinpoint the specific shade of each word as it applies to culture’s tagline of the “strong, independent woman,” then re-adjust the hue of their meanings to their purest and most original form--what it means to be a “strong, independent women” according to the Church.

There are women who think that being strong in the world has to mean hiding her femininity, lest she be judged by the world to appear weak or soft. And women sometimes do face social pressures that lead us to feel nearly obliged to avoid any semblance of gentleness or emotional warmth.

 It’s true, of course, that women have spent years battling glass ceilings, sexual violence and lacking representation in many spheres, and these battles rightfully continue. It’s true that women have to be prepared for those battles.

Despite this, women, I have discovered that we do not have to hide or throw away the warm, gentle side of our nature--or any part of our nature, for that matter. In fact, we shouldn’t.

Strength, in God’s eyes, means having the courage to embrace our womanly qualities, not to stifle them. We shouldn’t have to be embarrassed for our keen social skills and sensitivity to others’ emotions. We shouldn’t have to conceal our desire to care for others or our instinct to nurture. To grow the world’s appreciation for what women are: this is the true battle, the one worth fighting.

Independence, for women, is sometimes attached to the idea of “not needing” men, specifically in the context of romantic relationships. There is actually some truth to this. Women should not hold the concept of marriage as the ultimate goal in life, and neither should men. God does not call every woman and man to marriage.

But the idea of independence is most meaningful in the sense that women should focus on the unique path God is creating for them.

Though women’s lives do not hinge on men (or vice versa), they do, and should, depend on each other to bring their respective strengths to the world’s needs. This is the beauty of complementarity that John Paul II wrote about.

While I acknowledge that each woman has a different personality and a different set of gifts, I argue that these differences are varying reflections of the feminine genius. Some women may be more or less emotional or inclined to nurture than others. Women are called to work in various areas of the workforce; some are called to be mothers, some to both. Some women are more soft-spoken and gentle, others, perhaps, more vocal and audacious.

But no woman lacks the feminine genius, and no woman escapes its serious responsibilities, however it manifests itself in each woman’s highly specific calling. God made women different from men for a reason, and it is this we must embrace in order to live the feminine genius to its fullest.

So, my fellow sisters in Christ, let’s be strong in God’s plan for us, and independent on our search for his purpose for our lives.

 

 

Bay area project expands Gregorian chant instruction to children, teens

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 05:01

San Francisco, Calif., Jul 27, 2018 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An initiative in the Archdiocese of San Francisco to form the Catholic imagination through beauty will next month host a workshop on how to teach “chant camps,” in which children and teens are educated in Gregorian chant.

The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, founded by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone in 2014, is holding a Teaching Children's Chant Camp Workshop in Menlo Park, about 30 miles south of San Francisco, Aug. 9-12.

The institute means to promote the vision of the Second Vatican Council, whose constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, said that Gregorian chant is “specially suited to the Roman liturgy” and that “therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.”

Maggie Gallagher, executive director of the Benedict XVI Institute, told CNA that children are particularly receptive to Gregorian chant.

“Kids, teens, and tweens take to chant like a duck to water. For two reasons: First, music is a language and like all languages it is best learned young,” she said.

“Secondly, kids are fascinated by doing 'grown-up' music. People keep offering 8 and 9 year olds 'children's' hymns at the exact moment tween are looking to put aside the babyish and assume older identities.”

Gallagher's words echoed those of Pius XI, who wrote in his 1928 bull Divini cultus that in “their earliest years” young people “are able more easily to learn to sing, and to modify, if not entirely to overcome, any defects in their voices.”

This is the first summer the Benedict XVI Institute has held chant camps for children. The camps' director, Mary Ann Carr-Wilson, however, “has taught children's chant camps for the past ten years, helping to pioneer the form,” Gallagher said.

Carr-Wilson directs choirs at St. Anne Catholic Church in San Diego, has been a soloist with the San Diego Chamber Orchestra and other groups, and holds an M.M. from San Diego State University.

“Learning from Mary Ann is learning from the best. We're very grateful she's decided to join the Benedict XVI team,” Gallagher stated.

Rather than teaching solely performance, the camps impart a sense of the meaning of the Mass, and what is participation in the liturgy.

She has said that during the week-long chant camps, children learn how to chant the Mass, in a way that engages them immediately. Older and more experienced singers mentor the younger and weaker ones, and children who thought they couldn't sing find that they are able.

Most importantly, Gallagher has said, is that the children participants deepen their understanding of the Mass.

Gallagher reported to CNA the words of Fr. Corwin, the chaplain at a recent chant camp, that “These kids get more catechesis at chant camp than they do all year. They learn what the Mass is. They learn than chant is not performance, it's prayer.”

Fr. Corwin added, “They are intrigued to find out they are singing the same prayers their favorite saints prayed through the ages. They are tasked with mastering the Tradition and then charged with handing it down. They love the responsibility. They love the Mystery. And they love the beauty they offer to glorify God and sanctify the Faithful.”

The Benedict XVI Institute's promotion of Gregorian chant is in line with the Second Vatican Council, and with popes from St. Pius X to Pope Francis.

In his 1903 motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini promoting active participation in the liturgy, St. Pius X focused on the importance of chant, writing that “Gregorian Chant has always been regarded as the supreme model for sacred music.”

He directed that “special efforts are to be made to restore the use of the Gregorian Chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in the ecclesiastical offices.”

Pius XI said, “so that the faithful may more actively participate in divine worship, let Gregorian chant be restored to popular use.”

Ven. Pius XII wrote in his 1947 encyclical Mediator Dei that Gregorian chant “makes the celebration of the sacred mysteries not only more dignified and solemn but helps very much to increase the faith and devotion of the congregation.”

In his 2007 apostolic exhortation Sacramentum caritatis, Benedict XVI wrote that “while respecting various styles and different and highly praiseworthy traditions, I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy,” adding that “nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant.”

The 1967 instruction on music in the liturgy, Musicam sacram, which was an implementation of Vatican II, stated that “the study and practice of Gregorian chant is to be promoted, because, with its special characteristics, it is a basis of great importance for the development of sacred music.”

And in an address marking the 50th anniversary of Musicam sacram, Pope Francis praised the instruction and its focus on active, conscious, and full participation in the liturgy.

In his March 4, 2017 address to participants in a sacred music conference, Francis lamented that “At times a certain mediocrity, superficiality and banality have prevailed, to the detriment of the beauty and intensity of liturgical celebrations.”

He urged that musicians and others “make a precious contribution to the renewal, especially in qualitative terms, of sacred music and of liturgical chant.”

Among the participants in the Benedict XVI Institute's Aug. 9-12 workshop are the Missionaries of Charity, who Gallagher has said “told us they wanted our help to learn both to improve their own prayer life and so they can teach children how to participate in the Mass in this special way.”

Gallagher told CNA that “if you'd like to bring a chant camp or a chant camp workshop to your parish or school or youth choir, contact us Rose Marie Wong at wongr@sfarch.org.”

She added that one or two slots with scholarships for the Aug. 9-12 How to Teach Children Chant workshop are available.

How Fr. Spitzer wants to make Catholicism credible for doubting Millennials

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 02:00

Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- How can Catholics respond to young people’s questions and concerns about faith, science, and modern problems?
 
Father Robert Spitzer, S.J. thinks a new educational series called Credible Catholic can help.
 
“The problem of faith and science and evidence is really significant. Just invest a couple hours of your time and you’ll improve not just the faith of your children, not just their sense of transcendent dignity… at the same time they’re going to be a lot happier,” Spitzer told CNA July 25.
 
Spitzer is a past president of Gonzaga University and frequent commentator on the relationship between science and religion. He has produced seven television series for the EWTN Global Catholic Network. He is the president of the Garden Grove, Calif.-based Magis Center, which aims to revitalize Catholic and Christian belief among contemporary Americans.
 
The Magis Center has helped develop the Credible Catholic series, which has seven presentation modules specially dedicated to common intellectual challenges to faith.  The Credible Catholic presentations can be viewed directly from the Credible Catholic website or downloaded.
 
“Our hope is to turn the tide of Millennial unbelief,” Spitzer said.

Surveys from the Pew Research Center show a “steep decline” in religion in the U.S. among younger generations. Self-identified religiously unaffiliated “nones” numbered 39 percent among the age 18-29 demographic in 2016, up from 23 percent in 2006. If the trend continues, this proportion will grow to 50 percent in the next five years, the Credible Catholic website said.
 
Credible Catholic contends religious disaffiliation is being driven by “secular myths”: the idea that science has proven that God does not exist; the idea that suffering proves God does not exist; the idea that humans are just like other animals, made of atoms and molecules, with no proof of a transcendent “soul”; and the idea that there is no proof that Jesus was special or divine, and no proof of his existence or Resurrection.
 
Father Spitzer has selected seven Credible Catholic modules as essential. They deal with evidence of the soul from medical science; evidence of God’s existence from science; proof of God’s existence from philosophy; and proof of Jesus’ resurrection and divinity. Other essential topics address the question “why be Catholic?”, the nature of true happiness, and why an all-loving God would allow suffering.
 
The modules aim to address the stated intellectual reasons Millennials are leaving the Church.
 
When young people leave their faith, a significant minority give up belief in God entirely. Among this group, half do so “because of a perceived contradiction between faith and science,” Spitzer said.
 
In Spitzer’s view, young people are being strongly exposed to “a raft of pretty superficial arguments for atheism.”
 
“They’re easy to address, and there’s a ton of evidence to do it with,” he added. “Once you give all this evidence, it makes the faith look more credible than anything they might have heard from their friends in high school or their professors in college or especially on new media.”
 
In Spitzer’s view, young people seem particularly affected by “a malaise that is arising out of the problem of suffering.”
 
“The kids just can’t figure out if there is any good that can come from suffering, and why a good God would allow it,” he said. This is an age-old question, rather than a scientific problem, but “it has a really good answer.”
 
The Credible Catholic modules are designed with the goal that no special training is needed for them. Presentation guides aim to help a presenter lead the module. Individual guides and student workbooks are also available,
 
At present the Credible Catholic series is a set of 20 modules that serve in a complementary role to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The modules help explain difficult concepts and cover materials addressing issues that affect society today.
 
“You want to invest in your child’s happiness in moving him out of superficiality to a life of real dignity and leadership for the good?” Spitzer asked. “Just please, invest three or four hours in watching these modules. I swear it’ll make a difference not only to them but to you.”
 
Other planned programs in the Credible Catholic series will discuss faith and morals; the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults; Marriage and pre-Cana courses; Baptism; and Confirmation. When completed the modules will cover the complete Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The Credible Catholic series is available at the website www.crediblecatholic.com.
 

 

FEMM aims for data-driven approach to fertility awareness

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 21:00

Washington D.C., Jul 26, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- For some, the idea of “fertility awareness” can seem daunting- full of charts and confusing formulas. The FEMM Health App seeks to change that, by providing an easier way for women to understand their fertility, and their overall health.

FEMM, which is an acronym meaning “Fertility Education & Medical Management,” describes itself as a “comprehensive women’s health program that teaches women to understand their bodies, and hormonal and other vital signs of health.”

The health app was launched on iOS in 2016. In addition to the app, FEMM offers classes and connections with medical professionals in order to help women better understand their hormonal cycles.

FEMM is a partner of the World Youth Alliance, an NGO that says it is “committed to building free and just societies through a culture of life.”

All women, regardless of age, are able to use the FEMM Health App.

On the app, women can record data about their menstrual cycles, as well as trackable observations about their emotional and physical well-being.
 
Using the data provided to the app, each cycle will be analyzed via an algorithm. FEMM can then offer predictions for the start of the woman’s next menstrual period or ovulation date, or provide alerts if something appears to be out of the ordinary, such as an abnormally short luteal phase.

Armed with this knowledge, a woman can seek out a FEMM teacher familiar with the app to further sort out any issues, and seek further medical treatment if a problem arises.

“There isn't a single problem that I've encountered in my medical practice that can't be mitigated by using the FEMM work-up,” Dr. Mary Martin, an OB/GYN based in Oklahoma City who works with FEMM, told CNA in an interview.

“So, the best thing about it is for people who don't have as much experience, let's say, in this area, can simply go to the materials and know exactly what to order, and using the treatment algorithms, have treatment success” without having to utilize more invasive techniques or procedures.

While the algorithms prove useful for identifying underlying problems, this information can also be used by couples who are seeking to become pregnant--or for those seeking a natural way to avoid pregnancy without the use of artificial contraceptives.

Martin was rebuff to any skeptics or naysayers who say that using an app to avoid pregnancy is foolish.

"I've wagered my credibility on this," said Martin. "It works. It's based on the science of Billings ovulation method.” The FEMM Health App, she said, makes it even easier for couples to use this technique, as it will remind the woman each day at 8 p.m. to record that day’s observations.

The app also has advantages for those struggling to conceive, said Martin.

"I use the FEMM app as well for my infertile patients, so they can identify the potentially fertile days."

The advantages of FEMM, Martin explained, is that it provides a way for doctors like herself to provide actual diagnoses for issues such as endometriosis or abnormal bleeding. All of these conditions have result from an endocrine issue that must be addressed, but doctors liker herself are “not actually challenged to diagnose the underlying issue.”

“This is a breakthrough.”


Addie Mena contributed to this report.

Pence announces Genocide Recovery Program for Iraqi minorities

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 18:30

Washington D.C., Jul 26, 2018 / 04:30 pm (CNA).- Vice President Mike Pence announced the establishment of the Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response Program on Thursday “to rapidly deliver aid to persecuted communities, beginning with Iraq.”

Speaking July 26, at the State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, Pence said that he hopes that the genocide recovery program “will not only deliver additional support to the most vulnerable communities,” but also “embolden civil society to help stop violence in the future.”

The Christian and Yazidi minorities of northern Iraq were decimated by the Islamic State in 2014. While these communities are beginning to rebuild, the mass atrocities and ethnic cleansing they endured cannot easily be overcome.

Nadia Murad, a young Yazidi girl, was in the audience listening as the vice president shared her story.

“Four years ago, the butchers of ISIS entered her village and slaughtered more than 600 Yazidi men and boys, including six of Nadia’s brothers and step-brothers. Then they stole Nadia away and all the young women, and subjugated them to the most degrading form of human slavery.”

“Thousands of Yazidis remain missing to this day or in ISIS captivity,” he continued. The Yazidi women who have survived and escaped the Islamic State, like Nadia, have returned with stories of rape and torture.

The new initiative will bring together funding from the U.S. government and “the vast network of American philanthropists and believers,” said Pence. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development will partner with local faith and community leaders to ensure “this support will flow directly to individuals and households most in need of help.”

“America will help the victims of ISIS reclaim their lands, rebuild their lives, and replant their roots in their ancient homelands so that all religions can flourish, once again, across the Middle East and the ancient world.”

Earlier the same day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used the Ministerial to announce that the State Department will provide an additional $17 million in funding for landmine clearance in the Nineveh region of Iraq “with a large population of religious minorities who were subject to ISIS genocide.”

Vice President Pence also used his address to the Ministerial to demand the release of American evangelical Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained in Turkey since October. The vice president said that, unless Turkey acted swiftly, sanctions would be imposed.

“To President Erdogan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the President of the United States of America: Release Pastor Andrew Brunson now, or be prepared to face the consequences.”

“If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free.”

According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Brunson was moved from a Turkish prison to house arrest on 25 July. The commission has advocated for the pastor’s release, along with that of six other prisoners of conscience in China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Eritrea.

“To believers across America, I say: Pray for Pastor Brunson. While he is out of jail, he is still not free,” Pence said.

Secretary Pompeo announced several other religious freedom initiatives on the final day of the State Department Ministerial, including a new International Religious Freedom Fund, International Visitor Leadership Program, and a three-day public-private partnership workshop in religious freedom called “Boldline.”

The State Department Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom will become an annual event, and the U.S. will support other countries who plan to host their own religious freedom conferences. Vice President Pence underscored that religious freedom was an ongoing foreign policy priority

“Today, tragically, a stunning 83 percent of the world’s population live in nations where religious freedom is either threatened or even banned,” said Pence.

“But as our Founders knew, this precious liberty is endowed not by government, but by our Creator.  And we believe that it belongs not just to the American people, but to all people so endowed.”

Pence spoke out against the persecution of religious minorities in Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea. He also lamented the rise in anti-semitism in Europe.

The vice president highlighted the story of a Catholic priest in Nicaragua, Father Raul Zamora, whose parish was attacked by paramilitary forces earlier this month.

“In Nicaragua, the government of Daniel Ortega is virtually waging war on the Catholic Church.  For months, Nicaragua’s bishops have sought to broker a national dialogue following pro-democracy protests that swept through the country earlier this year”

“But government-backed mobs armed with machetes, and even heavy weapons, have attacked parishes and church properties, and bishops and priests have been physically assaulted by the police.”

Addressing Fr. Zamora directly, Pence said “Let me say to you, Father: Our prayers are with you, and the people of America stand with you for freedom of religion and freedom in Nicaragua.”

Pence concluded his remarks to the more than 80 foreign delegations attending the Ministerial with a quote from Leviticus that is inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, and unto [all] the inhabitants thereof.”

The genius of woman: Women in the world

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 17:56

Denver, Colo., Jul 26, 2018 / 03:56 pm (CNA).- This week, CNA says farewell to our summer intern, Lizzy Joslyn. In her final week at CNA this summer, Lizzy offers "The Genius of Woman," a four-part series of interviews and profiles, based on Pope St. John Paul II's "Letter to Women," and interviews with seven Catholic women from very different walks of life. This is the fourth piece in that series:

A sophomore college student studying political science, Miriam Miller, 18, dreams of becoming a strong and influential advocate for humanitarian causes.

Initially, Miller felt fear and doubt when considering a career in politics. Not wanting “to be mean, argue, tear people apart” in her future career, Miller’s was encouraged when she discovered, through an exploration of the Church teachings, that she “didn’t have to” embody those qualities in order to be successful and happy in her desired field. “That’s not who I am as a person,” she added.

“I don’t want to feel like I have to be this weird little mutant of myself,” Miller said. And, thanks to the feminine genius, she doesn’t have to.

A little refresher: John Paul II, in his 1995 “Letter to Women,” used the idea of the “feminine genius” to praise women for their unique abilities socially and emotionally: “Much more important is the social and ethical dimension, which deals with human relations and spiritual values. In this area, which often develops in an inconspicuous way beginning with the daily relationships between people, especially within the family, society certainly owes much to the ‘genius of women.’"

Miller told CNA that in her experiences attending seminars and events with political leaders, she has encountered some women who seem to avoid anything that might make their femininity stand out. There was a noticeable expectation for women to almost go out of their way to “not look cute,” she said.
 
Women shouldn’t have to feel like they should hide their feminine qualities out of the fear of harassment, she added.

“Women have kind of lost that feminine grace, which is a good thing… and it’s sad,” Miller said.

God made women with their own unique qualities--the feminine genius--and those should be celebrated and used to further his kingdom, Pope St. John Paul II taught.

Miller said that until she learned that, there were qualities “in myself that I hadn’t allowed to grow because I was told it wasn’t good,” she said. Until Miller realized she didn’t have to hide her femininity, or her perspective, she doubted her aspirations, and her ability to have the future she hoped for.
 
Embracing the feminine genius gives women power to positively influence the world, John Paul II wrote.

“Perhaps more than men,” wrote John Paul II in his Letter to Women, “women acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts. They see them independently of various ideological or political systems. They see others in their greatness and limitations; they try to go out to them and help them.”

Women humanize the world--their talents socially and emotionally have the potential to create a “civilization of love,” as John Paul II said--a peaceful society that strives to imitate and exemplify God’s perfect love.

CNA’s Managing Editor Michelle La Rosa also sees the feminine genius at work in the workplace. Her interests began in political philosophy, and they translated easily to journalism when in 2011 she began working for CNA in Washington, D.C.

La Rosa, the only female editor at CNA, says she brings a unique contribution to “editorial discussions or in different viewpoints or working with people,” complementing the perspective of her male colleagues.

“There’s… this different perspective that women often bring.”

“Our editors here collaborate really well because we all have very different strengths and weaknesses and very different backgrounds. But I think part of that feminine genius is just kind of seeing the… more human side of things,” said La Rosa.

Women, as John Paul II wrote, “make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of ‘mystery’, to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.”

By most modern standard, “progress,” he wrote, is “measured according to the criteria of science and technology.”

“Much more important,” the pope said, “is the social and ethical dimension, which deals with human relations and spiritual values.” This, he said, is where the feminine genius is uniquely important.

The differences between men and women“doesn’t mean we can’t do the same jobs,” Miller noted, “we just do them differently.”
“Womanhood expresses the "human" as much as manhood does, but in a different and complementary way,” wrote John Paul II. “It is only through the duality of the "masculine" and the "feminine" that the "human" finds full realization.”

“As a rational and free being, man is called to transform the face of the earth. In this task, which is essentially that of culture, man and woman alike share equal responsibility from the start,” he wrote.

“Recognizing the unique gifts and talents of what it means to be a woman is not to degrade men, but it’s to recognize that complementarity and the ways in which men and women can really build off of each other and work together to build up the church and society,” La Rosa said.

 

St Katharine Drexel's relics to be moved to Philadelphia cathedral

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 17:09

Philadelphia, Pa., Jul 26, 2018 / 03:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The relics of St. Katharine Drexel, along with her original tomb, will be translated to the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, and the public will be able to visit her remains when  the tomb opens in September.

St. Katharine Drexel and her family attended Mass at the Cathedral Basilica when she was a child.

Previously, St. Katharine Drexel' body was buried at the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament Motherhouse and Shrine in Bensalem, Pa. That shrine closed at the end of 2017, about 18 months after the sisters announced that they intended to sell the property. The smaller number of sisters found it difficult to maintain the relatively large property.

“The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament have once again given the faithful of the Archdiocese a tremendous gift,” said Fr. Dennis Gill, rector of the Cathedral Basilica. “With the new opportunity to honor Saint Katharine at the Cathedral, even more people will be exposed to her extraordinary life and example. It is our fervent hope that others will be inspired and continue her important work among Native Americans and African Americans.”

The opening of the new tomb coincides with several new programs from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia celebrating Drexel’s life and work. These include lesson plans for Catholic schools, a documentary film, new websites and social media outreach, and a Mass of thanksgiving to be celebrated in November. This Mass will mark the formal opening of the tomb.

“Saint Katharine’s message is as relevant today as it was 125 years ago,” said Sister Donna Breslin, President of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, in a statement published by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “She is a contemporary saint and we continue to pray to her for an end to racism and other deeply rooted injustices.”

St. Katharine Drexel was canonized Oct. 1, 2000 by St. Pope John Paul II. She was the second American-born saint, and the first-ever saint to have been born a U.S. citizen. (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint, was born in New York in 1774, while the area was still a British colony.)

Born in 1858 to a family of significant wealth, Katharine Drexel founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1891. Her work primarily focused on ministering to the African American and Native American populations of the southwestern United States.

Drexel’s order opened 50 schools for African American children, 12 schools for Native American children, and over 140 missions for these populations.

Her order founded what would eventually become Xavier University of Louisiana, the only historically black Catholic university in the United States. Today, a school named after her stands on the site of the original college.

She died in 1955 at the age of 96, and the canonization process began 11 years later.

Will Cardinal O'Malley's response to McCarrick allegations be enough?

Thu, 07/26/2018 - 15:40

Washington D.C., Jul 26, 2018 / 01:40 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Séan O’Malley of Boston released a statement Tuesday in response to the unfolding allegations concerning Cardinal McCarrick.

The statement said the Church needs to respond with “more than apologies” to sexual misconduct cases. It identified a “major gap” in Church procedures for handling accusations against bishops, and made suggestions for addressing that gap.
 
Cardinal O’Malley enjoys a reputation for being a “zero-tolerance” bishop on matters of sexual abuse, and he is widely perceived to be the Church’s most credible voice on the subject. Given his stature, especially on matters of sexual abuse, many Catholics were eager for his response to the McCarrick scandal.

Interventions by Cardinal O’Malley have become the sober punctuation marks to major abuse stories. His public response to Pope Francis’ dismissal of victims following the papal visit to Chile was widely praised as a brave intervention, one which caused the pope to dramatically reassess the situation in that country.

Widely credited with successfully reforming dioceses plagued by abuse scandals, first in Palm Beach and most famously in Boston, he was seen as a natural choice to lead the newly-established Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2014. He also serves on the C9 Council of Cardinals, Pope Francis’ advisory committee, tasked with helping the pope to review the governing structure of the Church.
 
 O’Malley’s statement yesterday was typical of his approach to sensitive issues – measured, focused, and thoughtful.
 
“Transparent and consistent protocols are needed to provide justice for the victims and to adequately respond to the legitimate indignation of the community,” he wrote.
 
“The Church needs a strong and comprehensive policy to address bishops’ violations of the vows of celibacy in cases of the criminal abuse of minors and in cases involving adults.”
 
If his diagnosis of the problem is instinctive, Cardinal O’Malley’s prescription is equally straightforward.
 
“Three specific actions are required at this time. First, a fair and rapid adjudication of these accusations; second, an assessment of the adequacy of our standards and policies in the Church at every level, and especially in the case of bishops; and third, communicating more clearly to the Catholic faithful and to all victims the process for reporting allegations against bishops and cardinals.”
 
In short, Cardinal O’Malley proposed that in future, allegations against bishops need to be handled as a matter of highest priority; that a new, purpose built, system be put in place to handle complaints against bishops; and that these necessary reforms be clearly announced, so there can be no doubt about how such cases should be handled in the future.
 
It is a simple, clear, and practical proposal.

But it is not a new proposal. And it is not immediately clear what new procedures the cardinal has in mind, especially because in recent years the Holy See has announced and developed the kinds of procedural reforms O’Malley seems to be calling for, and he had a hand in some of them.
 
For years, canon law has provided for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to receive accusations of sexual abuse against a bishop and to put them on trial. Such trials do happen, albeit very rarely, and Pope Francis has made several announcements and changes designed to strengthen those procedures.
 
In June 2015 the pope announced his intention to create a new tribunal within the CDF, specifically to conduct trials of bishops accused of negligence in relation to sexual abuse allegations.

That announcement actually followed a proposal submitted to Francis by Cardinal O’Malley in his role as President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors – itself a creation of structural reforms undertaken by the pope.
 
In June 2016, Pope Francis issued the motu proprio letter Come una madre amorevole. This legal document referenced the existing canon law provisions for the removal of a bishop from office for “grave reasons” while fleshing out what those grave reasons could be.

It also outlined a new legal mechanism for assessing and trying accusations made against bishops, especially when charges involved negligence in cases of sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable adults.
 
While it did not create the CDF tribunal promised in 2015, Come una madre laid out a usable legal framework which, together with existing canon law, would allow Vatican authorities to receive allegations against bishops, convene a legal process, and submit a finding and recommendation for removal to the pope.
 
Two years later, and despite several high-profile situations that seem to many to meet the process’ criteria, it has yet to be used.
 
In short, if one thing has not been lacking in the Church’s response to allegations against bishops it is the creation of new structures and procedures.

Perhaps O’Malley has in mind the specific mention of bishops in the USCCB’s policies governing sexual abuse allegations, or adding to those new sections dealing specifically with bishops. It is also possible that he means identifying a clear point-person in the United States who could receive complaints about bishops, and act on them.

Those ideas could be useful. But, like all legal processes in the Church, deployment of good policies depends upon the decisions of diocesan bishops, Vatican officials, and the pope.  

Many canonists, who have watched the emergence of new processes and systems in recent years, note that persons, not institutions, must be the ones to make the law actually work.

--

Amid the maelstrom surrounding Chile’s recent sexual abuse crisis, Pope Francis acknowledged his direct responsibility for failings in the way the matter had been handled, offering an apology for his  “serious mistakes.”

Later, writing to Chile’s bishops, he lamented “one of our main faults and omissions: not knowing how to listen to victims.” He included himself among those who had not listened, and promised to do better.

“I was part of the problem” he said directly to victims of abuse, while meeting with them in the Vatican this May.

Leaving aside still-unanswered questions about how, exactly, the pope was a part of the problem, Francis set a template for bishops to follow as they interacted with victims-- one that many noted was personal, direct, and humble.  

Many Catholics in the U.S. are now looking for the same from their bishops, for a recognition that beyond institutional failures, there were personal faults that allowed McCarrick to continue in ministry amid decades of complaints.

Absent the will of bishops themselves, no new procedure or structure can actually prevent a repetition. There is, indeed, a thin line between building a clear and effective process and a building a culture of bureaucratic proceduralism, which protects everyone but those who bring allegations forward- a lesson the Church has learned in abuse scandals around the world.

To the Chilean bishops, rather than calling only for more processes, Francis urged that bishops “generate a culture of care which permeates our ways of relating, praying, thinking, of living authority."

--

When then-Archbishop McCarrick was appointed to lead the Archdiocese of Washington in 2000, Father Boniface Ramsey contacted the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, to report the allegations of McCarrick’s misconduct with seminarians he had heard from his own seminary students, the New York Times reported.

Although he put his concerns in writing, at the explicit request of the nuncio, no action was taken and no one knows where that letter ended up.

Sources have told CNA that Ramsey’s experience was not unique, and other complaints about sexual misconduct also went seemingly unheard at the nunciature during Montalvo’s tenure.
 
Fifteen years later, after seeing McCarrick at the funeral of Cardinal Egan, Ramsey wrote to Cardinal O’Malley, again relating what he knew about “a form of sexual abuse/harassment/intimidation or maybe simply high-jinks as practiced by Theodore Cardinal McCarrick with his seminarians and perhaps other young men.”

Cardinal O’Malley’s statement explains what happened next:
 
“Recent media reports also have referenced a letter sent to me from Rev. Boniface Ramsey, O.P. in June of 2015, which I did not personally receive. In keeping with the practice for matters concerning the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, at the staff level the letter was reviewed and determined that the matters presented did not fall under the purview of the Commission or the Archdiocese of Boston, which was shared with Fr. Ramsey in reply.”
 
Fr. Ramsey’s letter was, as Cardinal O’Malley explains, handled according to proper procedures. The Commission is not a legal department charged with prosecuting allegations, nor did the allegations concern the Archdiocese of Boston. But while the response was technically correct, to some Catholics it seemed to illustrate that a response can be procedurally correct and yet pastorally, and perhaps morally, negligent.
 
Cardinal O’Malley’s responsibility as a member of the pope’s abuse commission is, in part, to foster and promote a culture of responsibility towards accusations of sexual abuse and misconduct.

In light of that, many Catholics are asking why his office would not immediately forward the letter to the competent Vatican department, or at the least bring it to the cardinal’s personal attention, rather than offer a a response that might be characterized as “not our department?”  

It is worth noting that Cardinal O’Malley said he did not “personally receive” the letter from Fr. Ramsey’s reporting allegations. Some critics say this response looks like the cardinal distancing himself from his office’s systems and procedures, while at the same time claiming that more systems and procedures will be the remedy.

All bishops get voluminous amounts of mail, and because of O’Malley’s position, he likely gets more than his fair share. Some of that is hate mail, or incomprehensible rambling, but some of it is important. The cardinal’s office obviously needs procedures to assess that correspondence.

But Cardinal O’Malley has discretion over inter-office mail procedures in the chancery of the Archdiocese of Boston; nothing stops him from ensuring he does “personally receive” all letters making allegations of sexual abuse.

The cardinal has not indicated if he will personally review all such communiques in future.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston declined to respond to questions from CNA, referring a reporter to the cardinal’s July 24 statement.

--

In the past 15 years, the Church has learned that victims of abuse, and all Catholics wearied by constant scandal in the Church, do not ordinarily want to hear about a new charter, tribunal, or special procedure. They generally say they want to know that their bishops hear them, and that their bishops care enough to act.

After Chilean victims of abuse met with Francis earlier this year, they praised the pope for listening, for being empathetic, for taking responsibility, and for promising change. They did not seem to be calling for more prudent managers or more efficient processes. They were calling instead for shepherds with the moral courage to be their brother’s keepers.

Whether O’Malley’s answer will satisfy remains to be seen. How the USCCB, the Archbishops of Washington and Newark, and other prominent figures will respond the crisis McCarrick has begun also remains to be seen.

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