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How Catholics can work to 'expel this demon' of racism

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 17:30

Washington D.C., Jul 1, 2020 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- Catholics can use the weapons of faith to expel racism from society, black Catholic leaders said on Wednesday at an online forum on the future of the United States.

Gloria Purvis, host of EWTN’s radio show “Morning Glory,” who has served on the National Black Catholic Congress, said on Wednesday that Catholics need to work together to “expel this demon” of racism through prayer and fasting.

Purvis noted how Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco performed an exorcism on June 27 at a local park where a statue of St. Junipero Serra was torn down by a crowd.

Catholics, Purvis said, could travel to other sites where an evil has occurred and pray for an exorcism there, such as the spot where George Floyd was knelt on by a police officer in Minneapolis or to Tulsa, Oklahoma where African-Americans were massacred in 1921.  

“We can take our faith and bring it into the public square,” she said.

Purvis spoke on Wednesday at an online symposium “What’s Next for America,” co-hosted by the National Review Institute and the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture, which has hosted a series of discussions on “faith, hope, and love” online.

Joining Purvis on the panel was Louis Brown, executive director of the Christ Medicus Foundation, and moderator Kathryn Jean Lopez, senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of National Review.

Lopez began the discussion by invoking Pope Francis’ 2015 address to U.S. Congress where he said that the response to injustice “must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice.”

She asked what could be done by Catholics to respond to current-day challenges of the new coronavirus pandemic and widespread anti-racist protests and riots.

Brown said that people must first “recover our identity” as “all sons and daughters of God” who “have equal human value.”

“It boils my blood” to see an African-American man “clearly murdered, and people want to talk about his rap sheet,” Brown said of efforts to diminish the dignity of a fellow person. “Murder is always murder.”

Purvis said that, when the pandemic hit and Americans had to quarantine, she saw the shutdown as an opportunity to make sacrifices for others.

Now, she said, Catholics must make sacrifices to atone for the sin of racism. St. Theresa of Avila would tell sisters who witnessed a fellow nun doing something wrong to practice the opposite virtue, Purvis said.

“Why are we not doing reparation to God for the sins that we have done to each other?” she asked. “Until we have a conversion of heart, there is not going to be peace among us.” Catholics can examine their consciences to see where they might have committed sins of racism, take them to the confessional, and ask God to heal them, Purvis said.

Brown gave the example of the pro-life movement, where members pray and fast for an end to abortion even though they might never have had an abortion or participated in one. Catholics can do the same with racism, he said.

Catholics can also make an effort to understand the experiences of others they may not be familiar with. For instance, Brown said, African-American communities have especially suffered from COVID-19. “Part of it is that we don’t have access to medical care that we should have,” he said.

Some other concrete actions Catholics can take to “unleash” the “force of love,” he said, is to set up communal forums at their parish for better understanding between communities and healing. If someone has an issue with their local police department, he said, “be engaged.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in South Africa in 1994 was not perfect, Brown said, but people confessed of injustices they committed, and healing occurred. “We need that now in America,” he said. “We have never dealt with our woundedness here in the United States of America. We change a law and we try to move on. That’s clearly not working.”

The social bonds of faith, family, and love, he said, “have been seriously, seriously threatened and diminished,” and if Catholics don’t take action now to help the country heal, “we may not have the country that we love.”

New Florida law requiring parental consent for abortion limits harm, Catholic bishops say

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 15:37

CNA Staff, Jul 1, 2020 / 01:37 pm (CNA).- After Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law requiring parental consent for a minor’s abortion, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops praised the effort for reducing the “grave harm” of abortion.

“This common-sense measure simply holds abortion to the same consent requirements as most every other medical decision involving a child, including simple interventions such as taking an aspirin or getting ears pierced,” the bishops said June 30.

“As Catholics, we condemn abortion as a grave injustice that denies the fundamental human right to life. However, as long as abortion is legal, we support measures such as parental consent that will reduce the grave harm it inflicts.”

Under the new law, minors seeking an abortion will be required to receive notarized approval from at least one parent or guardian. The minor may seek a waiver from a circuit court judge.

Doctors who perform abortions without the parental consent of a girl under 18 would face up to five years in prison for a third-degree felony.

The Florida House of Representatives passed SB 404 by a 75-43 vote Feb. 20. It had cleared the Senate 23-17 in an earlier vote.

“We are especially grateful to the legislative leaders who advanced this pro-life legislation, particularly bill sponsors Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) and Representative Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach),” the bishops said. “We also commend the Democratic lawmakers who courageously crossed party lines and voted in support of this good bill.”

The bishops thanked Republican Gov. DeSantis for signing the bill into law.

Senate President Bill Galvano, a Republican, praised the legislation.

“The serious and irrevocable decision to end a pregnancy involves undergoing a significant medical procedure that results, in many cases, in lifelong emotional and physical impacts,” he said in a statement. “The parents of a minor child considering an abortion must be involved in such a substantial and permanent decision.”

The bill would expand restrictions under the current Florida law, approved by voters in 2004, which only requires a minor to give notice to their parent, guardian, or a judge that they intend to procure an abortion

The Florida legislature first enacted a parental consent law in 1979, but the state Supreme Court struck it down a decade later, saying it violated privacy rights. Backers of the new law are confident it with withstand legal challenge, given changes on the court.

Florida’s Catholic bishops commented the day after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Louisiana law holding abortion clinics to the same standards as other surgical centers.

“While deeply disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision yesterday regarding an abortion case out of Louisiana, we are pleased that Florida has taken a step forward today in ensuring vital protections for parents and their children,” said the bishops.

Planned Parenthood of Florida said the parental consent law would “endanger young people who, in many cases, have experienced abuse at the hands of their own parents or guardians.” The group said few court clerks could offer information on the judicial bypass, and access to the courts is hindered by coronavirus epidemic restrictions, CBS 4 Miami reports.

Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said the bill “could open the door to a reinterpretation of our constitutional right to privacy and the right to a safe and legal abortion in Florida.”

The law also strengthens legal protections for infants who survive an abortion.

“This law sends a clear message that here in Florida, we will do everything we can to prevent the abomination of infanticide in our state,” Galvano said. “When a child miraculously survives this brutal medical procedure, that child’s life must be preserved and treated with great respect and care. The penalty for refusing to provide medical care to an infant struggling for life should be significant.”

'Soft despotism' of anti-Catholicism on the rise, USCCB religious liberty chair warns

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 14:10

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 1, 2020 / 12:10 pm (CNA).- The new leader of the U.S. Catholic bishops on religious liberty has warned of a “soft despotism” of religious intolerance in the U.S.  Archbishop Thomas Wenski told CNA that “new Jacobins” are driving Catholics from the public square for their beliefs.  

“We’re not second-class citizens because we are people of faith,” said Wenski, Archbishop of Miami and head of the U.S. bishops’ religious freedom committee, in an interview with CNA on Tuesday.

The archbishop said a new wave of religious intolerance is forcing believers and belief out of public life.

Wenski pointed to laws forbidding public funding of religious schools—overruled by the Supreme Court this week—but also in the HHS contraceptive mandate case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and 21 year-old Jack Denton, who was removed from his student government position at Florida State University for defending Church teaching.

All this hostility to public Catholicism is “treating us as somehow less worthy of full participation in the benefits of American life,” he said.

Wenski is the new acting chairman of the U.S. bishops’ religious freedom committee, taking office this month after the former chair Bishop George Murry, S.J. of Youngstown died on June 5 after a relapse of leukemia.

The archbishop spoke with CNA this week after the Supreme Court decided in favor of religious schools in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that Montana’s state constitution discriminated against religious schools in barring their access to a taxpayer-funded scholarship program.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion of the court that the U.S. constitution “condemns discrimination against religious schools and the families whose children attend them.”

“The Supreme Court got it right” on religious schools, Wenski told CNA on Tuesday, but “a lot of people were not happy with the decision [Monday] on the abortion issue,” he said of the court’s ruling in June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo that struck down Louisiana’s safety regulations of abortion clinics.

Montana’s no-aid clause at the heart of the Supreme Court case, which forbids public funding of “sectarian” causes or religious institutions, was initially passed as a Blaine Amendment in the state’s 1889 constitution and was included again in its 1972 constitution.

Blaine Amendments were commonly enacted by states in the late 19th-century, with 37 states adopting such provisions. Archbishop Wenski said that they were anti-Catholic in nature, as they meant to block public funding of Catholic parochial schools that the largely-Protestant public school system received.

“France doesn’t have any problem supporting parents who send their children to Catholic schools,” Wenski said. “The same is true of Canada, Australia, et cetera.”

“Such laws have never really been neutral, as they pretend to be,” he said.

Another recent example of “soft despotism” in American life Wenski highlighted is the case of Jack Denton, former president of the Florida State University student senate and a rising senior at the school.

Denton expressed concerns about some policy positions of the groups, the ACLU, and Reclaim the Block in a messaging forum of the university’s Catholic student union.

He noted that the “fosters ‘a queer-affirming network’ and defends transgenderism,” while the ACLU “defends laws protecting abortion facilities.” Reclaim the Block, Denton said, “claims less police will make our communities safer” and supports budget cuts to police departments. These positions, he said, are “things that are explicitly anti-Catholic.”

Another member of the forum sent screenshots of Denton’s statements to members of the student senate, who ultimately voted to remove him as head after a petition received thousands of signatures calling for his removal, accusing him of making “transphobic and racist remarks.” 

Denton said he did not make the statements in his official capacity as student senate president and he was simply posting “defenses of, basically, Catholic moral teachings,” Wenski said, yet “that was a step too far for many of these new Jacobins we see around.”

Such events are “becoming more common than remarkable, unfortunately,” the archbishop said, noting that Catholics are increasingly becoming ostracized, ridiculed, or even denied jobs because of their religious beliefs.

One religious freedom case that the Supreme Court has yet to decide is that of the Little Sisters of the Poor against the HHS contraceptive mandate. Archbishop Wenski said he hopes that Tuesday’s decision in Espinoza will bode well for the Sisters.

Both cases, he said, “really deal with the freedom to serve” and the freedom of Catholics to live out their faith in the public square.

As the new chair of the religious freedom committee, Archbishop Wenski said his most pressing issue is simply figuring out how to operate the committee in spite of the “handicaps” of the new coronavirus pandemic.

One positive note, he said, was the “tremendous assistance to parishes and schools across the country” from loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), an emergency loan program set up by Congress in March to keep small businesses and non-profits afloat during the pandemic. According to CBS News, by early May around 9,000 Catholic parishes received funding under the first two rounds of PPP loans, to help keep employees on payroll.

Religious freedom in foreign countries is also under threat, Wenski said, from a “hard despotism” in regions such as the Middle East and China, where Christians are imprisoned, tortured, and killed for their faith.

Meanwhile, some Christian churches have been locked in court battles with state and local governments over restrictions on public gatherings during the new coronavirus pandemic. The Justice Department has said that restrictions on churches must be temporary and not single out religion for stricter limits than other gatherings such as protests or commerce.  

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio justified his encouragement of mass protests against racism despite public health warnings on mass gatherings, saying that the protests “grappling” with America’s history of racism “is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved store owner or the devout religious person who wants to go back to services.”

“As Catholics, we understand the common good,” Wenski told CNA, noting that bishops suspended public Masses during the pandemic because it was understood as “a real public health threat.”

However, he said, governments cannot target religious groups unfairly, allowing mass protests or other gatherings while putting strict limits on public Masses.

“When you see that disparate treatment, then you have to ask whether that is because of some religious animus, and that’s where we have to be very careful,” he said.

Wenski brings prior experience with the conference to his new role, having served as the chair of the bishops’ domestic justice and human development committee from 2013 to 2016, and head of the international justice and peace committee from 2005 to 2008.

Both he and Murry ran for the position of religious liberty chair of the conference in November of 2019, to fill the vacancy left by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville who had resigned from the position because of his bladder cancer condition.

Wenski and Murry received the same number of votes from the conference and Murry was selected as the religious liberty head because of his seniority, being two years older than Wenski.

Cardinal Dolan: Amid statue toppling, let's avoid a cultural revolution

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 13:22

CNA Staff, Jul 1, 2020 / 11:22 am (CNA).- Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York wrote Sunday that the destruction of monuments is detrimental to the knowledge of history, and warned against a 'cultural revolution' like that of China under Mao Zedong.

“God forbid we’d go through a cultural revolution as China did five decades ago. Beware those who want to purify memories and present a tidy – and inaccurate – history,” the cardinal wrote in a June 28 opinion piece at the Wall Street Journal.

China's Cultural Revolution of 1966-76 sought to eradicate traditional elements from Chinese society, particularly old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas.

“And who’s to say which statues, portraits, books and dedications are spared,” the cardinal asked. "Remember when some objected to raising the status of the Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday to a national holiday, citing his self-admitted flaws?”

Many public monuments have been the focus of vandalism or have been thrown down in recent weeks.

Long-controversial statues of Confederate leaders were toppled in some localities, as were statues of George Washington, Christopher Columbus, and Ulysses S. Grant. At least two statues of St. Junipero Serra were knocked down by rioters in California, and a statue of St. Louis has been protested against.

The cardinal recalled the story of a parishioner who opposed his dedication of a new parish to Saint Peter, citing the first pope's three-fold denial of Christ.

“Knowing her and what parish she was from, I wrote back, ‘But you’re a proud parishioner at St. Mary Magdalene Church. She was sure not a paragon of virtue for a chunk of her life. Yet, by God’s grace, she became a radiant, inspirational saint. If we can’t name churches after sinners, the only titles we’d have left would be Jesus and His Mother!’”

He noted that the same is true “of America's historical personalities,” adding that “all of them had flaws, yet all of them still contributed a lot of good to our nation’s progress.”

He said toppling statues and vandalizing monuments is comparable to book burning.

“Our children need to know their country’s past, its normative figures and their virtues and vices. That’s how we learn and pass on our story,” he said.

He suggested that there is no “more effective way to comprehend America's history of racism” than by reading Huckleberry Finn or the short stories of Flannery O'Connor.

“My own mom kept a photo of her parents hanging on the wall of our house. Her dad, my grandfather, was an abusive drunk who abandoned his family. I’m glad we got to know of him, the good and the bad,” Cardinal Dolan wrote.

He reflected that “if we only honor perfect, saintly people of the past, I guess I’m left with only the cross. And some people would ban that.”

Having studied American Church history, he said that “as a historian … I want to remember the good and the bad, and recall with gratitude how even people who have an undeniable dark side can let light prevail and leave the world better.”

“I want to keep bringing classes of schoolchildren to view such monuments, and to explain to them how even such giants in our history had crimes, unjust acts and plain poor judgment mixed in with the good we honor.”

What the SCOTUS decision on anti-trafficking rules means for pro-life policies 

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 11:00

CNA Staff, Jul 1, 2020 / 09:00 am (CNA).- The Supreme Court is deciding major life and religious freedom cases this term, but one less-recognized ruling could impact billions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid.   

In USAID v. Alliance for Open Society International, the court ruled on Monday in a 5-3 decision that foreign entities of international humanitarian organizations do not have free speech rights.

As a result, U.S. foreign aid to these groups can be conditioned on them taking certain stances, including anti-prostitution and anti-trafficking positions. Other requirements -- such as that foreign non-governmental organizations (NGO) not promote abortion -- can also be levied, the court found.

The case of Open Society focused on an anti-prostitution and anti-sex trafficking pledge required by U.S. law for all groups participating in PEPFAR, the massive President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program, begun in 2003, and largely administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) inserted an amendment to the law that created PEPFAR. As a condition for receiving U.S. assistance to fight AIDS and other diseases, organizations would have to take anti-human trafficking and anti-prostitution pledges.

Smith, in his floor remarks around the time of the bill’s passage, explained why: Many AIDS victims are also trafficking victims, he said.

“The issue that is before us today is whether or not we will provide money to organizations that seek the legalization of prostitution and also enable the traffickers, and stand side by side with the traffickers and, regrettably, enable them to enslave these women, whether or not we will provide the money to them,” he said.

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the anti-prostitution requirement was an unconstitutional violation of free speech when applied to domestic organizations. However, on Monday, the issue before the Court was whether those same protections extended to foreign affiliates of domestic organizations, with potential knock-on effects for life issues.

Many non-governmental organizations such as March for Life U.S., March for Life Canada, and March for Life Ireland, might share similar branding but are separate organizations with separate funding streams.

Pro-life groups were concerned that had the court ruled the other way, finding that foriegn NGOs had free speech protections, it would affect other government requirements, such as the Mexico City Policy, which mandates that foreign NGOs receiving U.S. funding do not promote or perform abortions.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh—who acknowledged in oral arguments the possibility that the impending decision could be applied to the Mexico City Policy—wrote the opinion of the court in Monday’s decision.

“In sum, plaintiffs’ foreign affiliates are foreign organizations, and foreign organizations operating abroad possess no rights under the U. S. Constitution,” he said.

The Leadership Act which created PEPFAR, he said, has helped save 17 million lives and “is widely viewed as the most successful American foreign aid program since the Marshall Plan.”

Smith called the decision “a major victory in the struggle against HIV, for human rights and the fight against sex trafficking.”

“Who we fund—not just what—matters a great deal,” he said.

What’s next for the Supreme Court and abortion?

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 05:01

Washington D.C., Jul 1, 2020 / 03:01 am (CNA).- Monday’s ruling in June Medical Services v. Russo came as a major letdown for the pro-life movement in the U.S., dashing hopes that the Supreme Court would use the opportunity to strike at the foundation of legalized abortion in the country.

But the Louisiana law being questioned in the June Medical Services case was just one of several hundred abortion restrictions that have been passed at the state level in recent years.

Numerous other state laws are working their way through the court system, and any one of them could arrive at the Supreme Court in the coming months, paving the way for another major ruling.

Here are three cases for pro-life observers to watch:

Ohio’s ban on aborting babies with Down syndrome

Several states have recently enacted laws banning abortion on the grounds of sex, race, or disability of the baby. Last year, the Supreme Court avoided ruling on the issue, which was among the provisions of a challenged Indiana law. The court upheld a regulation requiring aborted babies to be aborted or cremated, but declined to make a decision on the remainder of the law, saying the topic had not yet received adequate consideration at the appellate level.

Further appellate court consideration of such laws could come out of Ohio, where a 2017 law banning abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis is currently being challenged. The law was quickly blocked from taking effect, and a panel of judges from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction in October 2019. In a rare move, however, the full appellate court then agreed to rehear the case. Arguments were heard in March, and a ruling has not yet been issued.

Attorneys defending the Ohio law say it operates within the framework established by Roe v. Wade and subsequent cases, because the state has a compelling interest in protecting the Down syndrome population from discrimination and elimination. Those challenging the law disagree. The losing party will likely appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, setting up a chance for the high court to rule on the issue of “eugenic abortions.”

Texas’ law prohibiting D&E abortions

A few states have also banned Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) abortions, sometimes known as “dismemberment abortion,” a method of abortion which is most commonly performed in the second trimester.

In November 2017, a federal district court blocked a Texas ban on D&E abortions, saying it was unconstitutional because it placed an “undue burden” on a woman’s “right to an abortion.” Texas appealed, and the case went before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In May 2019, the appeals court announced that it would not issue a decision in the case until the Supreme Court had ruled in June Medical Services. With that ruling now delivered, the Fifth Circuit can move forward with a decision in the Texas case, considering whether the logic of Monday’s ruling is applicable to the D&E ban.

Heartbeat abortion bans

The Supreme Court has declined several times in the last five years to hear cases involving laws which ban abortion after a baby’s heartbeat is detectable – often around six weeks into pregnancy. But if the court were to consider one of these laws, which a handful of states passed last year, it could be among the most significant rulings handed down in this generation.

While pro-life laws are often crafted to fit within the structure of state regulatory authority established by Roe v. Wade and other decisions, heartbeat bans openly defy Roe v. Wade, meaning a court challenge to one of these laws could set the stage for Roe itself to be reconsidered. Supporters of these laws are hopeful that one will arrive before a favorable Supreme Court, which will use the opportunity to overturn the 1973 case that established a nationwide “right to abortion.”

While stricter bills offer greater protection for unborn babies, they are also more difficult to defend in court. When Mississippi recently saw both a 15-week ban and a six-week ban struck down, the state’s attorney general said she wants to focus on appealing the 15-week ban, which may have a higher chance of success than the six-week ban.

How the SCOTUS abortion ruling could affect upcoming Senate races

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 20:01

CNA Staff, Jun 30, 2020 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- The US Supreme Court this week issued a ruling overturning a Louisiana law seeking to hold abortion clinics to the same standards as other surgical centers. In the wake of the decision, advocacy groups are highlighting the importance of preserving a pro-life majority in the US Senate. 

“Monday’s decision makes clear we do not yet have a majority on the Supreme Court who will uphold laws that protect the lives of women and unborn children,” said Marjorie Dannefelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, which advocates for pro-life politicians.

The 5-4 Supreme Court decision, handed down June 29, included a dissent from Justice Clarence Thomas, with Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, the court’s newest appointees, joining the dissent along with Justice Samuel Alito.

Pro-abortion groups such as NARAL have capitalized in recent days on senators who supported Kavanaugh’s 2018 nomination to the court, criticizing them for supporting a justice they see as a threat to ‘reproductive rights’.

Nearly all sitting Republican senators voted to confirm Kavanaugh, including several facing potentially competitive races in the fall, the New York Times reports. The Republican Party currently holds a 53-47 Senate majority.

In NARAL’s crosshairs are Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) — one of the few Republicans in the Senate openly supportive of Roe v Wade — as well as Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, all Republicans up for reelection in 2020.

Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act was passed in a bipartisan effort, authored by pro-life Democratic Rep. Katrina Jackson, now a state senator, and signed into law by then-governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican. It required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of a clinic.

The state’s current governor, John Bel Edwards (D), campaigned on a pro-life platform leading up to his election in 2015 and signed a bill to ban abortion in the state upon the detection of a fetal heartbeat, in advance of his 2019 re-election.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas commented shortly after the ruling that abortion “violently ends the life of a child, and often severely harms women. Abortion becomes even more destructive when basic health and safety standards are ignored, and profit margins are prioritized over women’s lives.”

“Even as we seek to end the brutality of legalized abortion, we still believe that the women who seek it should not be further harmed and abused by a callous, profit-driven industry,” he continued.

In Montana, man tears down Ten Commandments monument at county courthouse grounds

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 19:19

CNA Staff, Jun 30, 2020 / 05:19 pm (CNA).- A man has been arrested for allegedly tearing down a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of a county courthouse in northwest Montana.

The man, a 30-year-old Columbia Falls resident, allegedly wrapped a chain around the monument at the Flathead County courthouse grounds in Kalispell on June 27. He attached the chain to his truck, then pulled the monument into the street. He removed then chain, got into his truck, and left the area.

The Kalispell Police Department told NBC Montana that observers saw him and called police.

The accused man, Anthony Weimer, faces a felony charge of criminal mischief. Police said they did not know any motive for the action.

Kalispell Police Chief Doug Overman told MTN News he has no affiliation with any protest or demonstration groups in Flathead County.

Local media did not know whether the monument could be restored or if it had to be replaced.

The Ten Commandments monuments, often spread in collaboration with the movie of the same name, have been a tool for building Catholic, Protestant and Jewish unity in America. They have sometimes drawn objections, protests, and legal cases due to perceived violations of constitutional provisions regarding separation of church and state and non-establishment of a religion.

Many public monuments have been the focus of vandalism or have been thrown down in recent weeks.

Largely peaceful protests against police brutality swept the United States after the spread of video showing the death of Minnesotan George Floyd, a black man, during his detention by police.

However, civil unrest, looting, and vandalism have sometimes accompanied or followed these protests. Long-controversial statues of Confederate leaders were toppled in some localities, as were statues of George Washington, Christopher Columbus, and Ulysses S. Grant.

At least two statues of St. Junipero Serra were knocked down by rioters in California.

During the eighteenth century, the saint founded nine Catholic missions in the area that would later become California, many of those missions would go on to become the centers of major California cities. Serra helped to convert thousands of native Californians to Christianity and taught them new agricultural technologies.

Critics have lambasted Serra as a symbol of European colonialism and said the missions engaged in the forced labor of Native Americans, sometimes claiming Serra himself was abusive.

But Serra’s defenders say that Serra was actually an advocate for native people and a champion of human rights. They note the many native people he helped during his life, and their outpouring of grief at his death.

Biographers note that Serra frequently intervened for native people when they faced persecution from Spanish authorities. In one case, the priest intervened to spare the lives of several California natives who had attacked a Spanish outpost.

In St. Louis, Missouri the statue of the city's namesake French king St. Louis IX has drawn protests from Muslims, Jews, and others who object to the crusader king. The statue has also drawn hundreds of Catholic defenders who have prayed at the base of the statue.

St. Louis was King of France from 1226-70, and he took part in the Seventh and Eighth Crusades. He restricted usury and established hospitals, and personally cared for the poor and for lepers. He was canonized in 1297.

Disabled man dies after Texas hospital withheld coronavirus treatment

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 18:10

CNA Staff, Jun 30, 2020 / 04:10 pm (CNA).- A woman in Texas says that her husband was denied treatment for COVID-19, was moved to a hospice, and then starved for six days after a doctor decided that his quality of life did not merit care due to his preexisting disabilities. 

Michael Hickson 46, died on June 11, eight days after he was admitted to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center with pneumonia. He had contracted the coronavirus from a staff member at his nursing home. 

Hickson, a Black man, developed an anoxic brain injury and quadriplegia after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest in 2017.

After he was admitted to St. David’s South Austin, his wife, Melissa Hickson, said she recorded a conversation she had with a doctor, where he explained that he did not want to administer coronavirus treatment to her husband because of his concerns that treatment would not improve Michael’s quality of life. Melissa posted the video on YouTube

“So as of right now his quality of life, he doesn’t have much of one,” says the unidentified doctor in the recording.

Melissa replied “What do you mean? Because he’s paralyzed with a brain injury he doesn’t have quality of life?” she asked. The doctor replied “correct.” 

Michael was given a court-appointed guardian, Family Eldercare, while his wife and his sister were engaged in a legal battle over which of them should be Michael’s permanent guardian. Representatives from Family Eldercare made the decision to remove Michael from the hospital  and place him in a hospice. 

The doctor informed Melissa that the decision to withhold care was “what we feel is best for him along with the state, and this is what we decided,” and that “this is the decision between the medical community and the state.”  

The doctor explained that he did not wish to intubate Michael, which is what the protocol for administering the treatment drug Remdesivir required. While Melissa agreed that she did not wish to have Michael intubated either, she did not approve of him being moved to hospice and asked for alternative treatments. 

While in hospice, Michael did not receive food or medical treatments, and was instead given painkillers until his death six days later, she said. He died from untreated illnesses related to the coronavirus.  

In a separate YouTube video posted by Melissa on June 29, she states that she was not permitted to FaceTime her husband while he was in hospice, and that she was not informed of his death for over 12 hours. She also claims that he was not visited by anyone from Family Eldercare the duration of his hospice stay.

A statement from St. David’s South Austin posted on their website offered condolences to the Hickson family. 

"The loss of life is tragic under any circumstances. In Mr. Hickson’s situation, his court-appointed guardian (who was granted decision-making authority in place of his spouse) made the decision in collaboration with the medical team to discontinue invasive care,” said the statement.  

“This is always a difficult decision for all involved. We extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Hickson’s family and loved ones and to all who are grieving his loss.”

Michael is survived by Melissa and his five children.

Catholic archdiocese in Guam stopping monthly payments to former archbishop

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 18:01

CNA Staff, Jun 30, 2020 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Agaña announced Tuesday it will no longer give a monthly honorarium to its emeritus Archbishop Anthony Apuron.

Archbishop Apuron, 74, was found guilty of some of several abuse-related charges by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2018.

The archdiocese announced June 30 that “the decision by Archbishop Michael Byrnes will become effective Wednesday, July 1.”

Archbishop Byrnes is on an extended leave from Guam, having had hip surgery earlier this month.

In April 2019, Archbishop Apuron's sentencing was announced by the CDF. He was sentenced to privation of the office of Archbishop of Agaña; forbidden from using the insignia attached to the rank of bishop, such as the mitre and ring; and forbidden from living within the jurisdiction of the archdiocese. He was not removed from ministry or from the clerical state, nor was he assigned to live in prayer and penance.

The archdiocese noted in its statement that it “has still remitted a monthly honorarium of $1,500 to former Archbishop Apuron, even during this time of bankruptcy.”

The statement included quotes from a letter sent to Archbishop Apuron last week by Fr. Ron Richards, episcopal vicar of the archdiocese.

Fr. Richards said that the payment “has been been, to say the least, very difficult for the victim survivors of sexual abuse to comprehend. The victim survivors see this honorarium, to a credibly accused violator of delicts against the Sixth Commandment, as contrary to justice and a continuation of the abuse they suffered at the hands of the clergy.”

The priest added that “Archbishop Byrnes has heard from more of the victim survivors. Recognizing the pain these survivors have experienced from the sexual abuse in the past, he sees the continuation of remitting this honorarium as a further deepening of the wounds they are trying to heal from.”

The Agaña archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in January 2019, in the wake of numerous sex abuse allegations. Guam's territorial legislature had eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits involving child sexual abuse in 2016.

Earlier this year the Diocese of Buffalo, which has also filed for bankruptcy amid sex abuse lawsuits, similarly announced that a number of priests “with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse” would no longer receive financial assistance or health benefits, though pension plans would not be affected.

Greg Tucker, the Buffalo diocese’s interim communications director,  told CNA in May that “the diocese recognizes that there are certain canonical obligations to ensure that these individuals are not left destitute and is addressing this.”

Canon 402 of the Code of Canon Law says that “the conference of bishops must take care that suitable and decent support is provided for a retired bishop, with attention given to the primary obligation which binds the diocese he has served,” while canon 707 notes that a retired religious bishop is to be supported by his former diocese “unless his own institute wishes to provide such support; otherwise the Apostolic See is to provide in another manner.”

Archbishop Apuron had been found guilty by the CDF in March 2018, and the decision was upheld on appeal in February 2019.

The Vatican first opened its investigation in 2015 after a victim reported his alleged abuse to the apostolic nuncio for the Pacific.

Archbishop Apuron, is a native of Guam. He took solemn vows as a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin in 1968, and was ordained a priest in 1972. He was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Agaña in 1983, its apostolic administrator in 1985, and its archbishop in 1986.


St. Junipero Serra protested colonial oppression and abuses, Archbishop Gomez says

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 16:24

CNA Staff, Jun 30, 2020 / 02:24 pm (CNA).- Those who “slander” the legacy of St. Junipero Serra ignore his history of opposing colonial oppression and abuses of indigenous Americans, said Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, praising the saint, whom he called the “spiritual founder” of Los Angeles.

“The real St. Junipero fought a colonial system where natives were regarded as ‘barbarians’ and ‘savages,’ whose only value was to serve the appetites of the white man. For St. Junipero, this colonial ideology was a blasphemy against the God who has ‘created (all men and women) and redeemed them with the most precious blood of his Son’,” Archbishop Gomez wrote in his June 29 column for Angelus News.

“He lived and worked alongside native peoples and spent his whole career defending their humanity and protesting crimes and indignities committed against them,” he said. “Among the injustices he struggled against, we find heartbreaking passages in his letters where he decries the daily sexual abuse of indigenous women by colonial soldiers.”

The archbishop called for the observance of St. Junipero Serra’s July 1 feast day as “a day of prayer, fasting and charity.”

Numerous statues of historic figures have been pulled down in recent weeks amid ongoing protests and riots throughout the country. While some protests have torn down the statues of Confederate figures as part of a call to end systemic racism, other statues have also been torn down from prominent locations, including one of George Washington.

In San Francisco’s Golden Gate State Park on June 20, a mob tore down statues of Junipero Serra, as well as Union general and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, and National Anthem author Francis Scott Key. In Los Angeles the same day, rioters pulled down a statue of Serra in the city’s downtown area.

Statues at Catholic churches and missions, including Southern California’s famous Mission San Juan Capistrano, have been relocated for fear of vandals.

Archbishop Gomez voiced understanding for “the deep pain being expressed by some native peoples in California.”

“The exploitation of America’s first peoples, the destruction of their ancient civilizations, is a historic tragedy. Crimes committed against their ancestors continue to shape the lives and futures of native peoples today. Generations have passed and our country still has not done enough to make things right,” he said.

Gomez said he believes protests over California history are important. He praised the city of Ventura’s model of respectful debate over the Serra monument with both indigenous leaders and Catholic representatives.

In other cases, he said, “it is clear that those attacking St. Junipero’s good name and vandalizing his memorials do not know his true character or the actual historical record.”

“He learned their languages and their ancient customs and ways,” Gomez said. “St. Junipero came not to conquer, he came to be a brother. ‘We have all come here and remained here for the sole purpose of their well-being and salvation,’ he once wrote. ‘And I believe everyone realizes we love them’.”

“Serious scholars conclude that St. Junipero himself was a gentle man and there were no physical abuses or forced conversions while he was president of the mission system,” said Gomez. “St. Junipero did not impose Christianity, he proposed it. For him, the greatest gift he could offer was to bring people to the encounter with Jesus Christ.”

During the eighteenth century, the saint founded nine Catholic missions in the area that would later become California. Many of those missions would go on to become the centers of major California cities. Serra helped to convert thousands of native Californians to Christianity and taught them new agricultural technologies.

Pope Francis canonized the Franciscan missionary in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 23, 2015.

Some critics have lambasted Serra as a symbol of European colonialism and said the missions engaged in the forced labor of Native Americans, sometimes claiming Bl. Serra himself was abusive.

“The sad truth is that, beginning decades ago, activists started ‘revising’ history to make St. Junipero the focus of all the abuses committed against California’s indigenous peoples,” said Gomez. “But the crimes and abuses that our saint is blamed for — slanders that are spread widely today over the internet and sometimes repeated by public figures — actually happened long after his death.”

At the time of Serra’s arrival in California, it was voluntary to live in the missions and only 10-20% of California’s native community joined Serra in these missions. St. Junipero died in 1784, but it wasn’t until 1851 when California’s first governor called for “a war of extermination” against the Native Americans and called in the U.S. Cavalry, according to Gomez.

“It is sadly true that corporal punishment was sometimes used in the missions, as it was practiced throughout late 18th-century society. It is also true that some natives died of diseases in the missions,” he said.

Gomez said the saint understood that “the souls of indigenous Americans had been darkened with bitterness and rage at their historic mistreatment and the atrocities committed against them.” He cited Serra’s defense of Kumeyaay attackers who in 1775 burned down the San Diego mission and tortured and murdered a priest who was a friend of Serra.

“St. Junipero was not outraged. He was concerned for the killers’ souls. He pleaded with authorities to have mercy,” said Gomez. Serra urged forgiveness of the killers after “some slight punishment.”

This would help teach the Christian rule “to return good for evil and to pardon our enemies,” Serra wrote.

“This may be the first moral argument against the use of the death penalty in American history,” said Gomez. “And St. Junipero was arguing against its imposition on an oppressed minority.”

Gomez rejected online petitions which compare the saint to Adolf Hitler and the missions to concentration camps.

“No serious historian would accept this, and we should not allow these libels to be made in public arguments about our great saint,” he said. While the missions had “many flaws,” he compared them to other communes and communitarian efforts of early American history.

“The missions were multicultural communities of worship and work, with their own governments and a self-sustaining economy based on agriculture and handicrafts,” said Gomez. “Living and working together, Natives and Spaniards created a new, mestizo (‘mixed’) culture reflected in the distinctive art, architecture, music, poetry, and prayers that came out of the missions.”

While society could eventually agree not to honor St. Junipero Serra or other figures in the past, said Gomez, “elected officials cannot abdicate their responsibilities by turning these decisions over to small groups of protesters, allowing them to vandalize public monuments.”

“This is not how a great democracy should function,” he said.

Vatican's communications head urges Catholic journalists to build unity

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 16:08

CNA Staff, Jun 30, 2020 / 02:08 pm (CNA).-  

The head of the Vatican’s communications office told Catholic journalists on Tuesday that Catholic media should focus on promoting unity within the Church, especially amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

“Catholic communication is not only providing information about the is the capacity of building communion,” Paolo Ruffini, the prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications, said during the June 30 opening session of a virtual conference conducted by the Catholic Press Association.

The virtual conference aims to bring together Catholic journalists and communications professionals, and will feature seminars and workshops conducted June 30 through July 2.

Because Catholics are “united in one body,” Ruffini said during his remarks, Catholic communication should be different from the approach of secular media outlets, because Catholic media should focus on “the possibility of redemption,” and aim to “keep alive our togetherness.”

“Linking is our job. Linking memories. Linking facts. Linking people,” Ruffini said.

The prefect urged journalists to “show witnesses” of the Gospel, and to “build bridges to overcome conflicts.” He noted that the pandemic has become for many an isolating experience, noting that “even in the Church we experience the risk of an individualistic approach” that undermines Christian communion.

To overcome that tendency, Ruffini said that as the Church is build upon “the humility of St. Peter,” the work of Catholic journalists should also aim for humility, mutual aid, and Christian discipleship.

Speaking on a panel with Ruffini were Natasa Goveka, an official of the Vatican’s communications secretariat, and Bishop Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Goveka noted initiatives of the Vatican’s communications apparatus, while Tighe discussed the efforts at cultural dialogue undertaken by his office.

Panelists were asked about how dioceses can engage in communications efforts amid severe financial cuts in many dioceses. Tighe urged collaboration among dioceses, and investment in social media initiatives.

“If we have faith, we will find resources,” Ruffini added.

More than 250 people tuned into the session, which was offered for free.

Pope Francis sent a message Tuesday to members of the Catholic Press Association, appealing to Catholic journalists to help break down barriers of misunderstanding between people.

“We need media capable of building bridges, defending life and breaking down the walls, visible and invisible, that prevent sincere dialogue and truthful communication between individuals and communities,” he wrote.

“We need media that can help people, especially the young, to distinguish good from evil, to develop sound judgments based on a clear and unbiased presentation of the facts, and to understand the importance of working for justice, social concord and respect for our common home.”

He continued: “We need men and women of conviction who protect communication from all that would distort it or bend it to other purposes.”



Catholic bishops hail SCOTUS schools decision as blow against ‘anti-Catholicism’

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 13:00

CNA Staff, Jun 30, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- Leading U.S. bishops praised the Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday that religious schools should not be shut out from state benefits solely because of their faith-based status, calling it a “blow” against an “odious legacy of anti-Catholicism.”

In a 5-4 decision on June 30, the court said that the “no-aid” clause in the Montana state constitution, which barred public funding of religious institutions, discriminated against religious schools in violation of the U.S. constitution’s free exercise clause.

“This decision means that religious persons and organizations can, like everyone else, participate in government programs that are open to all,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami of Miami, chair of the U.S. bishops’ religious liberty committee, and the USCCB Catholic education chair Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

“A strong civil society needs the full participation of religious institutions,” they said, adding that the court’s conclusion was “promoting the common good.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, said that religious schools must be able to access public benefits if they are made available to secular private schools.

“A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious,” Roberts wrote. The constitution “condemns discrimination against religious schools and the families whose children attend them,” he said.

Administration officials applauded the court’s decision as a victory for school choice and opponents of anti-religious discrimination. 

Education secretary Betsy DeVos called it “a turning point in the sad and static history of American education,” saying that “it will spark a new beginning of education that focuses first on students and their needs.” She called on states to “seize the extraordinary opportunity to expand all education options at all schools to every single student in America."

The White House press secretary’s office celebrated the ruling, stating that “[l]aws that condition public benefits, like need-based academic scholarships, on religious status demonstrate state-sanctioned hostility to religion, pressure people and institutions to censor their religious views, and stigmatize disfavored religions.”

Attorney General William Barr said that Espinoza “represents an important victory for religious liberty and religious equality in the United States.”

In 2015, Montana’s legislature approved a state scholarship program for private schools funded by donors who could claim tax credits. The state’s revenue department, however, said that scholarships in the program could only be used for non-religious schools because of the state constitution’s prohibition of public funding of “sectarian” causes or religious institutions. 

The clause was initially enacted as a Blaine Amendment in Montana’s original 1889 constitution and was included in the 1972 constitution.

Some alleged that the clause was steeped in the anti-Catholic bigotry of the late 19th century, when Catholic schools were shut out of public funding that benefitted the largely-Protestant public school system of the time. However, its supporters have said that the 1972 constitution was upholding the “Establishment Clause” of the First Amendment, prohibiting the establishment of a state religion.

Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Barber on Tuesday said that the court’s decision “dealt a blow to the odious legacy of anti-Catholicism in America.”

“Blaine Amendments, which are in 37 states’ constitutions, were the product of nativism and bigotry,” they said of the no-aid clauses. “They were never meant to ensure government neutrality towards religion, but were expressions of hostility toward the Catholic Church.”

DeVos issued a warning to Montana and other states with similar no-aid clauses, that “your bigoted Blaine Amendments and other restrictions like them are unconstitutional, dead, and buried.”

“Too many students have been discriminated against based on their faith and have been forced to stay in schools that don’t match their values,” she said. 

Becket, a religious freedom legal group which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, also said that “[i]t was high time for the Blaine Amendments to bite the dust.”

“Relying on century-old state laws designed to target Catholics to exclude all people of faith was legally, constitutionally, and morally wrong,” said Diana Verm, senior counsel at Becket.

In 2017, the court dealt with a similar clause in Missouri’s constitution in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. There the court issued a narrow ruling in favor of a church-owned playground and its access to a public benefit program for resurfacing.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the legal group that represented the church in that decision, applauded Tuesday’s ruling.

“The Supreme Court was right to rule that states can’t oust parents and children from neutral benefit programs simply because they choose a religious private school,” said John Bursch, senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy at ADF.

While supporters of the no-aid clause might claim that there should be a “wall of separation” between church and state, that is a faulty understanding of the First Amendment’s establishment clause, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his concurrence.

“Thus, the modern view, which presumes that States must remain both completely separate from and virtually silent on matters of religion to comply with the Establishment Clause, is fundamentally incorrect,” Thomas wrote.

Supreme Court rejects Montana 'Blaine Amendment' in religious schools case

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 11:10

Washington D.C., Jun 30, 2020 / 09:10 am (CNA).- The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Montana state constitution’s bar on public funding of religious institutions violates the First Amendment. 

The U.S. constitution “condemns discrimination against religious schools and the families whose children attend them,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion of the court in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. Religious schools must have coequal access to public aid programs with secular private schools, Roberts wrote.

In the Court’s 5-4 decision, Roberts was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh. Dissenting were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

At issue was a state scholarship program, created by the legislature in 2015, and funded by donors who could claim tax credits. The Montana revenue department said that scholarships in the program could only be applied to non-religious schools because of a no-aid clause in the state’s constitution.

Montana ratified a Blaine Amendment in its 1889 constitution and again in 1972, prohibiting public funding of “sectarian” causes or religious institutions. 

While some claimed that the amendment was first enacted in a time of anti-Catholic bigotry, to bar the access of Catholic institutions to public funding, others said that the updated amendment in the 1972 constitution was meant to bring the state in line with the “Establishment Clause” prohibiting a state religion.

Roberts wrote on Tuesday that the no-aid clause “plainly excludes schools from government aid solely because of religious status.”

Several parents of students attending Stillwater Christian School in Kalispell, Montana, sued the state and the case eventually made its way to the state supreme court. That court struck down the program altogether rather than require it to allow for scholarships to religious schools.

Roberts on Tuesday ruled that throwing out the program was not a “neutral” decision by the state supreme court, as it stemmed from a conviction that barring public funding of scholarships to religious schools was already constitutional.

The court should have thrown out the prohibition on scholarships to religious schools, Roberts said. 

Roberts also noted that Montana’s prohibition of funding for religious schools was ahistorical. He found “no comparable ‘historic and substantial’ tradition” that supported the application of the no-aid clause in the case. “In the founding era and the early 19th century, governments provided financial support to private schools, including denominational ones,” he wrote.

“When the Court was called upon to apply a state law no-aid provision to exclude religious schools from the program, it was obligated by the Federal Constitution to reject the invitation,” he wrote.

In 2017, the Supreme Court issued a narrow decision in another Blaine Amendment case, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer. 

A divided court ruled that a clause in Missouri’s constitution similar to Montana’s no-aid clause could not be used to block a church-owned playground from applying for state renovation grants, simply on account of its religious status.

For this Catholic baseball player, a season off is ‘a relief’

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 05:00

Denver Newsroom, Jun 30, 2020 / 03:00 am (CNA).- Seth McGarry, a pitcher in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system, has never really not played baseball. But with baseball stadiums closed around the nation due to the COVID-19, he might spend his summer without the game.

“My entire past and childhood was always spent at a baseball field. I love competing,” McGarry told CNA. He started playing when he was five years old, attended Florida Atlantic University on scholarship, and was drafted into the minor leagues at age 21, before he graduated.

The baseball world has been reluctant to make a decisive call for the season. McGarry says that his team has spent months in a state of uncertainty.

“We've had to be in limbo and on standby, where we still had to train and throw and lift everyday to stay ready in case something happened,” McGarry said.

With gyms closed and practices prohibited, McGarry said that it has been difficult to train for the possibility of some semblance of a season. Players who live in rural areas did not have anyone to throw with or any equipment to lift.

And it’s still uncertain what the summer will hold. They may be asked to report for some kind of instructional league, while some may be invited to spring training with the major leagues. McGarry has no idea what those possibilities would look like.

But uncertainty, McGarry said, is just part of the game of baseball.

“With the baseball life, there is so much uncertainty and not knowing,” said McGarry. During a normal season, he plays every day and travels all over the northeast in a team bus.

Staying home, he finds, offers the respite of consistency.

“It’s been really nice to kinda have this time to just be in the same place for more than five or six months,” said McGarry. He was married in February 2017 and has an 8-month-old baby girl, Hannah.

During a regular season, McGarry goes months without seeing his family. But the pandemic has allowed him to spend more time with his wife and to see his baby daughter grow.

“Just being able to see her everyday, and sleep in my own bed, and have home-cooked family dinners all the time together, it’s been really great,” said McGarry.

For McGarry, getting to spend time with his family far outweighs the disappointment of not being able to showcase the progress he made over the offseason.

“The whole entire season I’d spent training and trying to get better at certain things, so not being able to play and complete and showcase that was a little frustrating. But at the same time, it was kind of a relief,” said McGarry. “I've gotten to see a lot of stuff that I wouldn't have gotten to see, like [Hannah] crawling and standing. A lot of that stuff I wouldn't have gotten to see in person.”

McGarry said that not everyone has been so lucky. His team has a lot of international players who were not able to return home before borders closed and who are now stuck in hotels.

One international player McGarry knows has been stuck in Sarasota, Florida, for months. McGarry said that his friend is just trying to “make the most out of his situation,” but it hasn’t been easy.

In the tumults of baseball life, McGarry’s Catholic faith is a constant. During the season, the team is provided with a priest for Mass, and also a translator for the international players.

But McGarry said that instead of asking God to change anything about his current situation, he has tried to approach the Lord with gratitude for what he does have.

“I think during all this time, instead of asking for guidance or for help, I spent more time just giving thanks and appreciating what I had with the time I get now with my daughter and wife, instead of searching for or asking for more.”


Two retired Catholic bishops test positive for coronavirus amid Texas surge

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 01:01

CNA Staff, Jun 29, 2020 / 11:01 pm (CNA).- Amid a surge of coronavirus cases in Texas, four retired clerics, including two bishops, have tested positive at a priests’ retirement home in Houston.

“We ask that you please pray for all those impacted by COVID-19, and in particular for all of our priests,” the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said June 29.

Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza Priest Retirement Residence was exposed to COVID-19 after a food service worker and an independent caregiver tested positive for the virus.

Among the infected priests are Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza, 89, and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Vincent Rizzotto, 88. None of the four who have tested positive for the virus have developed serious symptoms. Out of the 18 priests in the residence, 12 have tested negative for the coronavirus, and two have not yet received their results.

Texas is seeing as many as 5,000 diagnoses of infection with the coronavirus a day.

“Over just the past few weeks, the daily number of cases have gone from an average of about 2,000, to more than 5,000,” Governor Greg Abbott said June 28.

The surge follows loosening of restrictions in the state, but the governor recently closed bars again, and reduced the capacity at which restaurants are allowed to operate.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, told KHOU 11 that "We opened up the state too early, and we didn't put in enough belts and suspenders to do it properly."

The state had begun reopening in early May.

Analysis: Justice Roberts has some pro-lifers rethinking strategy

Mon, 06/29/2020 - 18:59

Washington D.C., Jun 29, 2020 / 04:59 pm (CNA).- In 2005, John Roberts’ confirmation as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court was hailed by many pro-life groups as an encouraging sign in the fight against legalized abortion. With the right combination of Supreme Court justices, they hoped, the court would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a nationwide “right to abortion.”

Today, 15 years later, Roberts cast the deciding vote in striking down a Louisiana law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital (June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo).

In his opinion, Roberts invoked the principle of stare decisis - the idea that if the court has already ruled on a certain issue, that precedent should generally be respected. He pointed to the court’s decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down a similar Texas law in 2016. Roberts dissented in the 2016 case. In today’s opinion, he said he still thinks the Texas case was decided wrongly, but believes the principle of stare decicis means the question is settled, at least for now.

Stare decisis is not absolute. The court has overturned its previous decisions, in landmark decisions like Brown v. Board of Education and in many smaller and less noted cases. Roberts himself authored one such opinion last year (Knick v. Township of Scott). In this case, however, he says there is not sufficient reason to overturn the previous ruling, even if he believes it to be flawed. Because the Louisiana law in question in this case is similar to the Texas law, he believes the previous ruling should apply in this case as well.

Roberts’ dissenting colleagues were quick to argue that his reasoning was flawed. Justice Samuel Alito noted that the Texas decision was based not on the text of the statute itself but on the concrete consequences of the legislation in the state, which were tied to specific factors in Texas that might not be present in other states. Since the circumstances in Louisiana were different, Alito said, the case should be considered independently rather than defaulting to the previous ruling.

Today’s outcome is a disappointment for pro-life advocates who had been hoping for a favorable court decision. But it has also raised serious questions about a political strategy being employed by some in the pro-life movement.

For the last several years, pro-life laws have been enacted in states throughout the country. Some prohibit abortions for specific reasons, such as a Down syndrome diagnosis or the sex of the child. Others establish requirements for those seeking abortions, such as mandatory waiting periods, ultrasound requirements, and parental notification or consent rules. Still others - such as the Louisiana and Texas laws - establish safety standards for abortion clinics.

According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, more than 400 of these laws have been passed at the state level in the last decade. Often, lawmakers carefully craft these bills to limit and restrict abortion in a way that will stand up to judicial scrutiny. Roe v. Wade and subsequent court cases established a framework for abortion regulations – the closer an unborn baby is to viability, the more restrictions on abortion are generally deemed to be constitutional. In the earliest weeks of pregnancy, court precedent says, government cannot limit abortion in a way that places an “undue burden” on women.

In recent years, however, there has been a shift of focus in some states, with legislators enacting laws that openly and intentionally violate this framework.

Several states have passed heartbeat bills, banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, around six weeks into pregnancy. While these laws have historically fared poorly in court, supporters have advocated their continued passage, hoping that they would end up before a favorable Supreme Court, which could then take the opportunity to deliver a fatal blow to Roe v. Wade.

Last year, Alabama passed a law making abortion a felony. Sponsors were explicit that the legislation was designed to defy Roe v. Wade and intended to draw a court challenge.

Roberts’ opinion today has given pause to advocates of this strategy, some of whom are reconsidering the premise that underlies it.

Four years ago, Donald Trump courted conservative religious voters by promising to appoint only “pro-life justices.” But dividing justices into “pro-life” and “pro-abortion” camps is a dangerous oversimplification of how judges understand themselves. Justices are not politicians, who exhibit loyalty to the platform of a certain party, knowing that they must face voters every few years in a new round of elections.

Court decisions are far more complicated, and rulings incorporate a variety of legal principles and technicalities. While certain judicial philosophies lend themselves more closely than others to a view that recognizes the right to life of the unborn, some pro-life advocates are beginning to realize judges expected to rule in favor of pro-life laws may well continue to rule against them.

With several more state abortion laws working their way through the court system, including some that fly directly in the face of Roe, conservatives may now find themselves increasingly nervous. Rather than either overturning Roe in one fell swoop or chipping away at it slowly, as has been the expectation, these state challenges could backfire, and result in abortion precedents being reaffirmed and further enshrined, pushing the pro-life movement further away from its political goals.

It is not clear how Roberts would vote on some of these cases. Doubts have also been raised about Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee who surprised many observers earlier this month by authoring an opinion ruling that sex-based discrimination protections apply to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Already, some political-minded pro-life groups are using today’s ruling to double down on their argument that Americans must vote for Republican candidates, that the next judge appointment will be the one to secure the nail in the coffin of Roe v. Wade. But for some pro-life advocates, today’s ruling has made clear that ending legal protection for abortion is not as simple as appointing certain judges, and that those who see ending abortion as a problem with a solely - or even primarily - judicial remedy may find themselves sorely disappointed.


‘A life modeled after Christ’: St. Louis archdiocese defends namesake’s statue

Mon, 06/29/2020 - 17:31

CNA Staff, Jun 29, 2020 / 03:31 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of St. Louis on Sunday released a statement defending the city’s namesake, amid calls from activists to tear down a prominent statue of King Louis IX. 

“For Catholics, St. Louis is an example of an imperfect man who strived to live a life modeled after the life of Jesus Christ. For St. Louisans, he is a model for how we should care for our fellow citizen, and a namesake with whom we should be proud to identify,” the archdiocese said June 29.

A group of activists on June 27 rallied at the statue, called Apotheosis of St. Louis, which has been a fixture in front of the St. Louis Art Museum for over a century. Leaders of the protests have called for the statues’ removal because of St. Louis’ “antisemitism [and] Islamophobia.”

Numerous statues of historic figures have been pulled down in recent weeks amid ongoing protests and riots throughout the country.

While some protests have torn down the statues of Confederate figures as part of a call to end systemic racism, other statues have also been torn down from prominent locations, including one of George Washington. Several statues of St. Junipero Serra have been pulled down or protested in California.

St. Louis is the only king of France to have become a canonized saint— Pope Boniface VIII canonized him in 1297. Eighteenth-century French explorers named the new fur trading outpost they founded on the Mississippi river after the saint.

St. Louis took part in the seventh and eighth crusades, during the second of which he died of dysentery. Louis ardently believed in the crusade’s cause to protect the Holy Land and fought a largely unsuccessful campaign in what is now Egypt from 1249-54.

Upon returning from the crusade, he resolved, according to one biography, “to lead a life as a Christian king worthy of rescuing Jerusalem one day.”

The archdiocese highlighted St. Louis’ care and concern for his subjects, especially the poor— pointing to reforms that he implemented in French government, which focused on impartial justice, protecting the rights of his subjects, steep penalties for royal officials abusing power, and a series of initiatives to help the poor.

St. Louis would feed beggars at his royal table, even washing their feet, and he also founded many hospitals.

Archbishop Robert Carlson, in a recent message against racism, had expressed his hope that calls for racial justice across the country would lead people to put aside violent solutions and instead focus on peaceful ones.

He said the statue of St. Louis, with its sword held down rather than poised for attack, is the peaceful symbol that the city needs.

“The Archdiocese of St. Louis is encouraged by the winds of change that are at hand, but believes that this energy of change should be focused on programs and policies that will dismantle racism and create a more equal society for all races and religions,” the statement continued.

“As Catholics, we believe that each person—no matter their race, religion, background or belief—is created in the image and likeness of God. As such, all should be treated with love, respect and dignity. We should not seek to erase history, but recognize and learn from it, while working to create new opportunities for our brothers and sisters.”

A June 26 video showed Father Stephen Schumacher, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, attempting to dialogue with protestors about St. Louis and his role in the crusades, saying “St. Louis was a man who willed to use his kingship to do good for his people.”

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, some 200 people were at the protest on Saturday. Catholics defending the statue at the protest prayed the rosary and sang, and several police officers separated them from the protesters.




After St. Junípero Serra statue torn down, Archbishop Cordileone offers exorcism prayers

Mon, 06/29/2020 - 15:45

CNA Staff, Jun 29, 2020 / 01:45 pm (CNA).- After a mob tore down statues, including a figure of St. Junípero Serra statue, in a San Francisco park, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was joined by several dozen Catholics Saturday in prayer and acts of spiritual reparation.

“Evil has made itself present here. So we have gathered together to pray for God, to ask the saints...for their intercession, above all our Blessed Mother, in an act of reparation, asking God's mercy on us and on the whole city, that we might turn our hearts back towards him,” Cordileone said in a June 27 video.

The St. Junípero Serra statue was torn down in Golden Gate Park the evening of June 19 by a crowd of about 100 people. The crowd also tore down statues of Francis Scott Key, author of the National Anthem, and Ulysses S. Grant, U.S. president and Union Army general who defeated the Confederate States of America.

On Saturday, several dozen people joined the Archbishop of San Francisco to pray.

“The presence of so many wonderful people here was of great comfort for me,” the archbishop said. “I feel such a great wound in my soul when I see these horrendous acts of blasphemy disparaging the memory of Serra who was such a great hero, such a great defender of the indigenous people of this land.”
Cordileone said the statue was “blasphemously torn down”

“An act of sacrilege occurred here. That is an act of the Evil One,” he said in the video.

“We came together to say the prayer of the rosary, and also the prayer of exorcism, the St. Michael Prayer, because evil is here, this is an activity of the evil one, who wants to bring down the Church, who wants to bring down all Christian believers,” he said.

“So we offer that prayer, and bless this ground with holy water so that God might purify it, sanctify it, that we in turn might be sanctified,” he said, encouraging Catholics to pray, to fast and to inform themselves.

“There's a lot that people don't know. There's a lot of ignorance of the real history. I'd ask our people to learn about the history of Father Serra, of the missions, of the whole history of the Church, so that they can appreciate the great legacy the Church has given us.”

The exorcism prayer Cordileone offered, the St. Michael Prayer, invokes the intercession of the Archangel Michael against the power of Satan. It is not the same as those exorcism prayers offered by the Church if a person is believed to be the subject of demonic possession.

During the eighteenth century, the saint founded nine Catholic missions in the area that would later become California, many of those missions would go on to become the centers of major California cities.

Serra helped to convert thousands of native Californians to Christianity and taught them new agricultural technologies. His statue in Golden Gate Park was first placed there in 1907. It was crafted by well-known American sculptor Douglas Tilden.

Critics have lambasted Serra as a symbol of European colonialism and said the missions engaged in the forced labor of Native Americans, sometimes claiming Serra himself was abusive.

But Serra’s defenders say that Serra was actually an advocate for native people and a champion of human rights. They note the many native people he helped during his life, and their outpouring of grief at his death.

Biographers note that Serra frequently intervened for native people when they faced persecution from Spanish authorities. In one case, the priest intervened to spare the lives of several California natives who had attacked a Spanish outpost.
In one letter urging fair treatment of native people, Serra wrote that “if the Indians were to kill me...they should be forgiven.”

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez said in 2015 that Serra had “deep love for the native peoples he had come to evangelize.”

“In his appeals, he said some truly remarkable things about human dignity, human rights and the mercy of God,” the archbishop added.

In 2017, Gomez praised Serra as an overlooked American founder.

“Remembering St. Junípero and the first missionaries changes how we remember our national story. It reminds us that America’s first beginnings were not political. America’s first beginnings were spiritual,” Gomez said in a 2017 homily.
Pope Francis canonized the Franciscan missionary in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 23, 2015.

“Junípero sought to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it,” the pope said in his homily at the Mass of canonization. “Mistreatment and wrongs which today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people.”

The legacy of the Church, Cordileone said, is “a wonderful legacy that we should be proud of. There are those who want us to be ashamed of it. We have every reason to be proud of it.”

“But also we have to approach living our Christian life with humility and to continue to give goodness to the world, and to give the world beauty and truth, with the help of the grace of God,” he said.

“Our Lady is always asking us to pray the rosary,'” he added. “The rosary has the power even to change history”

Cordileone said Serra had a personal importance for him.

“He was someone who was very much a part of my life growing up,” said the archbishop.

“I grew up very close to the first mission he founded, in San Diego.”

The toppling of the statue made him “very distressed” and “inflicted a great wound in my soul.”

“So the presence of so many people here was of great support to me,” he said.

In a June 20 statement, Cordileone said that important protests over racial injustice have been “hijacked” by a mob bent on violence.

“St. Serra made heroic sacrifices to protect the indigenous people of California from their Spanish conquerors, especially the soldiers,” he said. “Even with his infirm leg which caused him such pain, he walked all the way to Mexico City to obtain special faculties of governance from the Viceroy of Spain in order to discipline the military who were abusing the Indians. And then he walked back to California.”

Cordileone said he did not want to “deny that historical wrongs have occurred, even by people of good will, and healing of memories and reparation is much needed. But just as historical wrongs cannot be righted by keeping them hidden, neither can they be righted by re-writing the history.”

In 2018, San Francisco’s city government removed a statue of the saint from a prominent location outside City Hall. Stanford University's Board of Trustees recommended to rename some, but not all, features on campus named for the priest. The student government had said the Catholic missions had a harmful impact on Native Americans.

A statue of the saint remains displayed in the U.S. Capitol.

US Catholic bishops: Louisiana abortion ruling 'a cruel precedent'

Mon, 06/29/2020 - 15:01

CNA Staff, Jun 29, 2020 / 01:01 pm (CNA).- Monday’s Supreme Court decision overturning a Louisiana law holding abortion clinics to the same standards as other surgical centers ‘continues a cruel precedent’, the chair of the US bishops’ pro-life committee reflected.

In its June 29 5-4 decision in June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo, the court found that the state’s law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital posed substantial obstacles to a woman’s access to abortion, without significant benefits to the safety of women.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas commented shortly after the ruling that abortion “violently ends the life of a child, and often severely harms women. Abortion becomes even more destructive when basic health and safety standards are ignored, and profit margins are prioritized over women’s lives.”

“Even as we seek to end the brutality of legalized abortion, we still believe that the women who seek it should not be further harmed and abused by a callous, profit-driven industry,” he continued.

“The Court’s failure to recognize the legitimacy of laws prioritizing women’s health and safety over abortion business interests continues a cruel precedent. As we grieve this decision and the pregnant women who will be harmed by it, we continue to pray and fight for justice for mothers and children,” Archbishop Naumann stated.

“We will not rest until the day when the Supreme Court corrects the grave injustice of Roe and Casey and recognizes the Constitutional right to life for unborn human beings. And we continue to ask all people of faith to pray for women seeking abortion, often under enormous pressure, that they will find alternatives that truly value them and the lives of their children.”

The court’s decision was authored by Justice Stephen Breyer. Chief Justice John Roberts filed a concurring opinion.

Having been initially blocked on appeal by a district court, the law in question was upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019.

Breyer wrote that the Louisiana law was “almost word-for-word identical to Texas’ admitting-privileges law” that the Court ruled against in 2016.

The district court’s original ruling was correct to affirm that Louisiana’s “admitting privileges regulation offers no significant health benefit,” Breyer wrote, as well as its finding that the regulations “have made and will continue to make it impossible for abortion providers” to do so, thus putting “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking an abortion.”

Roberts said that abortion clinics did have standing to appeal the law on behalf of women in the state, despite having separate interests in seeing the law overturned. At issue in the case was whether the law, enacted in June 2014, imposed an undue burden on women seeking an abortion in the state.

Abortion providers argued that the Louisiana law imposed substantially the same restrictions and burdens on women as did the Texas law, which was also rejected by the court. The Louisiana law required that abortion clinics adhere to the same standards as other surgical clinics in the state and required that doctors practicing at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The law would have prevented five of the six doctors in the state who perform abortions from practicing, and would have forced the closure of two of the state’s three abortion clinics. Hope Medical Clinic, an abortion provider, and two abortion doctors sued against the law.

In its decision upholding the law, the Fifth Circuit appeals court judges said only one doctor in the state was currently unable to obtain admitting privileges, and that some abortion doctors had not tried hard enough to get admitting privileges.

Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act was passed in a bipartisan effort, authored by pro-life Democratic Rep. Katrina Jackson, now a state senator, and signed into law by then-governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican. It required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of a clinic.

The state’s current governor, John Bel Edwards (D), campaigned on a pro-life platform leading up to his election in 2015 and signed a bill to ban abortion in the state upon the detection of a fetal heartbeat, in advance of his 2019 re-election.

Although the Supreme Court heard a similar case of Texas’ safety regulations of clinics in 2016 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Fifth Circuit appeals court that upheld Louisiana’s law pointed out significant differences in the two cases. Fifth Circuit judges said that the law “does not impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women” as Texas’ law did, and “passes muster” of the court’s 2016 decision.

Roberts said that Louisiana’s law imposed restrictions “just as severe” as those of Texas’ law struck down by the court in 2016. Thus, according to the “legal doctrine of stare decisis,” he said, Louisiana’s law “cannot stand” because of the court’s previous ruling in 2016.

Roberts, however, dissented from that 2016 ruling against the Texas law. He joined the dissent of Justice Clarence Thomas which criticized “the Court’s troubling tendency ‘to bend the rules when any effort to limit abortion, or even to speak in opposition to abortion, is at issue.’”