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Louisiana abortion law's author denounces Supreme Court decision

Mon, 06/29/2020 - 14:30

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 29, 2020 / 12:30 pm (CNA).- Lawmakers, legal scholars, and pro-life leaders all criticized a Supreme Court ruling on Monday that overturned state safety regulations for abortion clinics in Louisiana.

State Sen. Katrina Jackson (D), who authored the bipartisan Louisiana law requiring that abortion clinics be held to the same standards as surgical centers, said she was “disappointed” that the court threw out a law that she said would “protect women injured in abortion facilities.”

“I am proud to be a pro-life Democrat,” Jackson said in a video message published after the court’s decision. “I am proud that this law received overwhelming support by both women and men, Democrats and Republicans, black legislators and white legislators.”

Jackson’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act received widespread support from both parties in the state legislature and was signed into law by then-governor Bobby Jindal (R) in 2014.

The Supreme Court justices, she said, “substituted their policy preferences over the clear will of the people of my great state.”

Four justices ruled on Monday in June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo that Louisiana’s requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at a local hospital would have made it “impossible” for abortion clinics to comply, without offering a significant health benefit for women. Justice Stephen Breyer authored the opinion, and Chief Justice John Roberts concurred to tip the court’s balance 5-4 against Louisiana’s law.

Breyer wrote that the federal court for Louisiana’s middle district was correct in overturning the state’s law, and that the Fifth Circuit appeals court was wrong to reverse that decision.

He noted the district court’s finding of “the substantial obstacle the Act imposes” to abortion facilities, “and the absence of any health-related benefit.” The court was right to conclude that “the law imposes an undue burden and is therefore unconstitutional,” Breyer said.

Of particular note to many commentators was Chief Justice John Roberts’ concurrence.

In a similar case from 2016, the court ruled against Texas’ regulations of abortion clinics in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Although the Fifth Circuit upheld Louisiana’s law in part because it did not pose the same burdens that Texas’ law did on abortion clinics, Justice Breyer said the law is “almost word-for-word identical” to Texas’ law.

Roberts dissented from the court’s 2016 ruling. Despite that dissent, Roberts said on Monday that because of the legal doctrine of “stare decisis,” the court’s previous ruling had to be applied in the current case. And, because the two laws are “nearly identical” and the court has to “treat like cases alike,” Roberts decided that “Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”

Rick Garnett, a professor at the University of Notre Dame’s law school, told CNA that while there is “widespread agreement that, generally speaking, like cases should be treated alike,” Roberts himself has not applied that standard in several cases where he deemed that previous court rulings were incorrect.

Thus, Garnett said, “it is difficult to see why he did not do so here, too,” given that “four years hardly seems like enough time to convert a judicial mistake” that was the Whole Woman’s Health decision “into an unmovable monument.”

Garnett pointed to Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissent that he believes “provided a clear blueprint” for a future court to overrule the Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion.

Thomas wrote that the court’s previous abortion decisions, beginning with Roe v. Wade, “created the right to abortion out of whole cloth, without a shred of support from the Constitution’s text.” The Roe decision founded a legal right to abortion upon “a free-floating constitutional right to privacy in Griswold v. Connecticut,” he wrote.

Furthermore, Louisiana’s law is “perfectly legitimate” and “represents a constitutionally valid exercise of the State’s traditional police powers,” Thomas said on Monday.

Ryan Anderson, the William E. Simon senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told CNA that Thomas “got it right” in arguing that justices cannot uphold legal precedent that is clearly erroneous.

“Nothing in the U.S. Constitution creates a right to abortion, regardless of what the Court has said in the past,” Anderson said.

Other legal experts and pro-life advocates said that Louisiana’s law aimed to protect the safety of women, and should not have been overturned.

“Louisiana abortion providers went to extraordinary lengths to erase a law that state legislators enacted overwhelmingly, in bi-partisan fashion, to promote the wellbeing of women,” stated Kristen Waggoner, general counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom which published an amicus brief in support of Louisiana’s law.

“Women seeking abortions have the same right to competent and quality care as patients involved in other surgical procedures. Louisiana’s admitting privileges law protected that right,” she said.

The March for Life stated that it was “appalled” by the ruling “which failed to hold Louisiana abortion facilities accountable for their numerous health and safety violations.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, called Monday’s decision “a bitter disappointment” that “reinforces just how important Supreme Court judges are to advancing the pro-life cause.”

Federal executions to resume after Supreme Court denies appeal

Mon, 06/29/2020 - 14:00

Washington D.C., Jun 29, 2020 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- Federal executions are set to resume in the next two weeks after the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the new execution protocol on Monday. 

“The application for a stay of the mandate pending the disposition of the petition for a writ of certiorari presented to the Chief Justice and referred to the Court is denied. The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied,” said the order for the case Bourgeois v. Barr on June 29. 

Four condemned inmates were arguing that their death sentences should be overturned due to the new execution protocol, which uses one drug instead of three in the process of lethal injection. 

The order was unsigned, but noted the dissent of “Justice Ginsburg and Justice Sotomayor [who] would grant the application and the petition for a writ of certiorari.” 

Four justices are required to agree to grant a case certiorari. 

In July 2019, Attorney General William Barr announced that the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Prisons would resume federal executions, and named five people who would be the first group of federal death row inmates to be executed.

“Under Administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murderers, each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding,” Attorney General William Barr said in a written statement at the time. 

Three of the executions are scheduled to take place on July 13. The last federal execution occurred in 2003. 

In November 2019, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan issued an injunction delaying the executions until the Supreme Court ruled whether or not to take up the case. 

In the injunction, Judge Chutkan pointed to a stipulation in the Federal Death Penalty Act requiring federal executions to be conducted “in the manner prescribed by the state of conviction.” Two of the men sentenced to die had been convicted in states using the three-drug protocol.

Pope Francis has called the death penalty a rejection of the Gospel and of human dignity, calling on civil authorities to end its use. In 2018, the Catechism of the Catholic Church was revised to describe the death penalty as “inadmissible,” citing the increasing effectiveness of detention systems, the unchanging dignity of the person, and the importance of leaving open the possibility of conversion.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, there are currently 62 federal inmates on death row.

The four plaintiffs seeking to overturn their executions were all sentenced to death for multiple murders, all including the murder of children. 

In an interview with EWTN host Raymond Arroyo in June, President Donald Trump defended the use of the death penalty and claimed that his support of the death penalty did not impact his pro-life credentials. 

Arroyo asked Trump about whether presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is pro-life, noting that some Catholics claim Biden is a pro-life candidate because of his opposition to the death penalty and his efforts to end climate change, while claiming Trump is not.

“I am totally in favor of the death penalty for heinous crimes, ok? That’s the way it is,” the president said.

“I’m pro-life, he’s not. And the Democrats -- look who he’s putting on the court.”

“They want to put people on the court- you have no chance. So I’m pro-life, the Democrats aren’t. Nobody can say that Biden is, look at his stance over the years,” the president added, saying that in his view Democratic party operatives will advance a pro-abortion agenda if Biden is elected to the White House.

The decision from the Supreme Court came on the same day that it struck down a Louisiana law which would have applied new regulations to abortion clinics in the state. The law would have required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

The court found the rule posed substantial obstacles to a woman’s access to abortion, without significant benefits to the safety of women. The suit against the law was brought by an abortion provider and two abortion doctors.

Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana abortion clinic law

Mon, 06/29/2020 - 11:07

Aboard the papal plane, Jun 29, 2020 / 09:07 am (CNA).- The Supreme Court delivered two decisions Monday on cases concerning life issues. Among a total of three decisions issued by the court June 29, justices overturned a Louisiana state law seeking to hold abortion clinics to the same standards as other surgical centers. 

In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Stephen Breyer, with Chief Justice Roberts filing a concurring opinion, 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. Having been initially blocked on appeal by a district court, the law was upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019. 

Breyer wrote that the state’s 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.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the majority, 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 of 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 enacted 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.

Chief Justice Roberts, in his concurrence, 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.’”

The court also ruled Monday on a case involving USAID, the federal government’s overseas aid agency. In that case, the agency had required foreign affiliates of humanitarian organizations to have policies opposing prostitution and sex trafficking as a condition of receiving U.S. funding to fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

The foreign organizations challenged the USAID regulation, saying it violated their free speech. Pro-life groups had expressed concern that, if the court sided with the objecting groups and issued a broad ruling, pro-life regulations could be threatened such as the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits U.S. funding of overseas groups that perform or promote abortions. 

However, the court on Monday ruled in a 5-3 decision that USAID’s requirement was not a free speech violation as the foreign affiliates have no First Amendment rights.

Also on Monday, the court rejected an appeal from four federal inmates seeking to block their executions. Attorney General Bill Barr announced the planned resumption of executions last year, and they are now free to proceed, with three scheduled for July 13. They will be the first federal executions since 2003, ending an informal 17-year moratorium on the practice at the federal level.

The four inmates have all been convicted of multiple murders, including of children.

Teacher completes walking pilgrimage to California's 21 missions

Sun, 06/28/2020 - 16:01

Denver Newsroom, Jun 28, 2020 / 02:01 pm (CNA).- A Catholic teacher who finished a pilgrimage to the Spanish Missions in California this week has emphasized his devotion to the first missions’ founder, St. Junipero Serra, and their influence on him as an educator.

Over the last two years, with a total of 45 days of walking, theology teacher Christian Clifford has trekked the California El Camino Real trail connecting all 21 missions. He finished the 781-mile pilgrimage June 22.

He told CNA that it has been an opportunity to walk in the shoes of the 18th-century friars, such as Serra, and to grow in virtues relevant to his experience as a teacher.

“I started visiting the missions and I really fell in love with them. I immerse[d] myself in learning more about it in the process. I [began] a real deep relationship with Junipero Serra,” he said.

“Those friars must have been very patient because they sacrificed a lot,” he added.

After he began teaching theology at Serra High School in San Mateo, he decided to learn more about the school’s patron and drove to the state’s 21 missions.

During this time, he authored three books about Spanish-Mexican history in California to help high school students understand the beautiful life of the missionary friars. One of the books, “Saint Junipero Serra: Making Sense of the History and Legacy,” tackles the controversial opinions of Serra, who is sometimes scrutinized by secular groups for his participation in Spanish colonialism.

“Saint Junipero Serra is such an amazing thing here. For those that don't know him, his life has been under a magnifying glass for a long time. We know so much about him … He can teach us so many things about being courageous evangelizers,” he said.

In May 2018, he began his pilgrimage on foot, starting at the northernmost mission in Sonoma, Mission San Francisco Solano, and made his way south to Petaluma in the North Bay. He said it was difficult, especially the first day, and even dangerous at times, as he had to walk along highways.

“I thought I prepared myself, got all my bag together,” he said. “By the time I reached my hotel, I thought I was going to die. My blisters were horrible, I had the wrong shoes. But, what happens is over time, you speak with other people and you learn new tricks. By the end of it, I was very comfortable, even in difficult situations,” he said.

A majority of the miles were covered last year, which marked the 75th anniversary of Serra High School and the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the first California mission in San Diego.

Clifford’s last portion was 138 miles from Mission San Fernando to Mission Santa Ines, in which he also visited Mission San Buenaventura and Mission Santa Barbara. He ended his journey marking the fifth anniversary of Serra’s canonization.

He said it has been a positive influence on his role as a teacher and a person, helping him grow in virtue and undergo similar experiences the friars went through. He said that during this year’s difficulties the pilgrimage helped him be patient with and understand students who were struggling.

“I think the thing that I learned the most is patience. So I try to be a more patient person with my students and my family life,” he said.

“I think in my life as a professional in particular, I need to be a little more patient with the young men that I teach, a little more understanding.”

He said the major goals of the pilgrimage were to draw attention to the holiness of Serra, and to raise awareness of the Mission San Antonio de Padua, which is struggling financially to meet earthquake codes required by the government.

“The Mission Saint Anthony of Padua is first of all, really cool, because it's the most isolated mission out of the 21, and it's located on a military base, but you don't need base access … You're literally walking back in time when you go there,” he said.

“I created a Go Fund Me … So overall [I raised] $1500, $1,600. But, I'm hoping that just by doing [the pilgrimage] more people go out there and visit it because it's so remote.”

He expressed the importance for Californians to understand the Catholic roots of the state, pointing to the significance of the names of cities, like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. He said this rich history has meaning to not only the faith but practical arts like farming and ranching.

“The Catholic roots, all you have to do is look around right,” he said. “You can argue the El Camino Real path [is] probably based on Indian trails [and] it links to these major cities - San Francisco, the city of Saint Francis; San Jose, the city of Saint Joseph; Los Angeles, the city of angels … so these major population centers are all basically where the missions once were,” he said.

Catholic priest among defenders of St Louis statue

Sat, 06/27/2020 - 23:36

CNA Staff, Jun 27, 2020 / 09:36 pm (CNA).- Fr. Stephen Schumacher, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, was among the defenders of a prominent statue of the city’s namesake as protesters called for its removal Saturday.

Umar Lee, an organizer of the protests, said June 27 that the statue “is gonna come down,” reported Joel Currier of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “This guy right here represents hate and we're trying to create a city of love. We're trying to create a city where Black lives matter. We're trying to create a city where there is no antisemitism or Islamophobia … this is not a symbol of our city in 2020."

Fr. Schumacher, whose priestly ordination was in May 2019, addressed a shouting mob, attempting to inform them about St. Louis’ life, saying, “St. Louis was a man who willed to use his kingship to do good for his people.”

Moji Sidiqi of the Regional Muslim Action Network, another organizer of the protest,  said: "It's a revolution. It's time for change … right now, our number one mission is to take this thing down and sit down with people who want to see positive change take place and continue to heal our country."

Sidiqi added that she thought the city should be renamed.

The statue, Apotheosis of St. Louis, sits in the city’s Forest Park in front of the Saint Louis Art Museum. It was erected in 1906 and depicts Louis IX of France, for whom the city is named.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, some 200 people were at the protest.

Catholics defending the statue at the protest prayed the rosary and sang, and several police officers separated them from the protesters.

Maria Miloscia told the Post-Dispatch that St. Louis “symbolizes deep faith and convictions. I stand for him. And I stand for those Catholic virtues and those Catholic values that I think are important, like courage, faith and love. But ultimately, I'm here for Christ the King.”

St. Louis was King of France from 1226-70, and he partook 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.

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 against.

In a June 23 letter, Bishop Donald Hying of Madison wrote that “If we allow the commemorative and visual history of our nation to be destroyed by random groups in the current moment of anger, how will we ever learn from that history? Does toppling and vandalizing a statue of George Washington because he owned slaves, really serve our country and our collective memory?”

“The secular iconoclasm of the current moment will not bring reconciliation, peace, and healing. Such violence will only perpetuate the prejudice and hatred it ostensibly seeks to end...Only the love of Christ can heal a wounded heart, not a vandalized piece of metal,” the bishop added.

Tennessee's new pro-life legislation 'designed to stand up to court challenges'

Sat, 06/27/2020 - 08:01

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 27, 2020 / 06:01 am (CNA).- Tennessee’s new pro-life legislation is “designed to stand up to court challenges,” State Rep. Susan Lynn (R), a sponsor of the bill, said Thursday.

Speaking during an interview on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly Friday, Lynn said that Tennessee lawmakers anticipated a legal challenge to the bill, so they used a "ladder approach," of multiple limits, so if the court strikes down the heartbeat ban portion, the remaining bans will remain in place.
Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill last week that contains multiple restrictions on abortion, including banning the procedure after both six and twenty weeks, banning abortions based on the race or sex of an unborn child, and a ban based on a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a supporter of the legislation, has indicated he will sign it into law.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We have passed the strongest pro-life law in our state’s history and I am grateful to <a href="">@ltgovmcnally</a>, <a href="">@CSexton25</a>, <a href="">@SenJohnson</a>, <a href="">@WilliamLamberth</a> and members of our General Assembly for making the heartbeat bill law.</p>&mdash; Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) <a href="">June 19, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>
Although the bill has not yet been signed into law, pro-abortion groups including Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union have already filed a lawsuit against to block its implementation in federal court. Similar legislation has been challenged and blocked from implementation in other states.
“There’s a successive order of dates where the court can reach that level where they feel comfortable,” Lynn said.
Lynn said she hopes the bill’s heartbeat ban stands because "a heartbeat is an indicator of life.”
“So it only makes sense that when there is a heartbeat, there cannot be an abortion," she said.
Lynn praised the Tennessee General Assembly as “overwhelmingly pro-life.”
“Now is the time to pass strong pro-life legislation,” she said.
Lynn also called for prayers for the bill’s success.
“We have great legal minds working on this and great legal minds who are ready, willing, and able to defend this, but we still need everybody’s prayers,” she said.

Coronavirus relief must benefit private schools equitably, US Education Department says

Fri, 06/26/2020 - 20:01

CNA Staff, Jun 26, 2020 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- Federal coronavirus aid to private schools is now enforceable by law, the U.S. Department of Education has said, following concerns that Catholic and other non-public schools were being excluded from sufficient epidemic relief funds to support protective equipment for students and teachers, cleaning, training in remote education, and distance education tools.

“The CARES Act is a special, pandemic-related appropriation to benefit all American students, teachers, and families impacted by coronavirus,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said June 25. “There is nothing in the law Congress passed that would allow districts to discriminate against children and teachers based on private school attendance and employment.”

The programs under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, provide over $13 billion in aid to schools.

“While a number of traditional public schools aren’t sure whether they will open their doors in the fall, too many other kinds of schools are sure they won’t open at all,” DeVos said on a June 25 phone call with reporters. “More than 100 private schools, including many Catholic schools, have already announced they will never reopen, and hundreds more face a similar fate.”

Local education agencies, which are tasked with distributing the federal monies, must provide “equitable services to students and teachers in non-public schools” under both relevant CARES Act programs: the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

The new rule, DeVos said, recognizes that CARES Act programs are not Title I programs.

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

While local education agencies have “broad latitude” about the use of funds, it is expected that most of the funding will go to services responding to the problems of the coronavirus epidemic, including “equipment to protect student and teacher health” and building remote education capacity, the Department of Education said.

The rule succeeds previous guidance, which had no regulatory effect. The rule discourages “the limited number of financially secure private schools” from seeking these services.

“Providing equitable services is long-standing law under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act,” the Department of Education said June 25. “Local education agencies provide no money to private schools under these equitable services provisions. Instead, they provide secular, neutral, and non-ideological services to non-public schools after consulting with private school leaders about the needs of students and teachers.”

Two options are provided for local authorities. The first option requires that if a local education agency uses CARES Act funds for students in all its public schools, it must calculate funds based on students enrolled in private schools in the district.

If applied by all localities, this would increase CARES Act aid to private schools from $127 million to $1.5 billion, the Learning Policy Institute has said.
Under the second option, if the local agency chooses to use funds only for students in Title I schools, it must calculate funds for equitable services based on either the total number of low-income students in Title I and participating private schools or based on the local agency’s Title I share from the 2019-2020 school year.

Backers of public schools and public school teachers’ unions have criticized this option, saying it would be burdensome and unworkable for many public school districts. Further, under this option funding can only go to helping low-income students. It may not be used to clean and disinfect a district’s schools because it would benefit students who are not low-income, Sheara Krvaric of the Federal Education Group consulting firm told National Public Radio.

Another critic of the move was Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the School Superintendents Association. He said the previous standard based on Title I eligibility of private school students “aligns with both the clear intent of Congress in the CARES Act as well as the applicable underlying statute in the Every Student Succeeds Act.” Domenech said the rule would limit public schools to allocating CARES Act funding based on Title I eligibility while “allowing all private schools to generate their share of funding by counting all of their students.”

Domenech charged that the rule was “an opportunistic money grab, using the pandemic environment to advance the privatization agenda.” He said it would use funds intended for Title I-eligible public school students to “subsidize wealthier students in private schools.”

Education Undersecretary James Blew, speaking on the June 25 phone call, rejected depictions of private schools as primarily for the wealthy.

“If you think that private schools typically are like Sidwell Friends or Georgetown Day, I want to help you understand that about 90% of the private schools in America are small schools that are serving low- and middle-class working families,” he said, according to the Washington Times.

The Department of Education on June 25 said that if private schools close, local public schools could be forced to enroll thousands of transfer students “at a time when public schools are already under their own financial strain.”

“Most private schools serving low- and middle-income communities are under great financial strain due to COVID-19 because they are typically dependent on tuition from families and donations from their communities. Because the economic disruptions are shrinking these revenue sources, more than 100 private schools have already announced they will not be able to reopen following the pandemic, and hundreds more are facing a similar fate,” the Department of Education said.

The June 25 rule has taken effect, but it could be revised after public comment.

Some 5.7 million children, about 10% of school-age students, attend private schools, the Council for American Private Education, has said. About 8% of private school students are living in poor households, compared to about 19% of public school students.

Education officials in several states had ruled that private schools would receive fewer funds than many schools deemed sufficient.

In early June the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference asked the U.S. Department of Education to reverse state authorities’ decisions that the conference said gave insufficient coronavirus relief funds to Catholic and other private schools. Some $523.8 million in K-12 federal aid went to Pennsylvania through the CARES Act.

Only $19 million went to Pennsylvania’s private schools, while the state Catholic conference said $66 million was the more equitable figure.

After backlash, EWTN radio host Gloria Purvis says she will persevere

Fri, 06/26/2020 - 17:55

Denver Newsroom, Jun 26, 2020 / 03:55 pm (CNA).-  


Gloria Purvis, host of a Catholic morning radio show produced by EWTN, said she will keep speaking out for racial justice, amid news that her show will not be broadcast by a large radio network which carries EWTN’s syndicated radio content.

News that the Guadalupe Radio Network would no longer air Purvis’ “Morning Glory” radio show broke on social media Thursday night. Purvis confirmed to CNA that she has been informed the Guadalupe network would no longer carry the show and is “not happy with the direction of the show right now,” but that Guadalupe Radio has not reached out to her directly.

The EWTN radio network will continue to produce and broadcast “Morning Glory,” which is available on terrestrial and satellite radio, as well as online.

“EWTN is still carrying the show,” Purvis said, adding that EWTN executives told her “that nothing has changed, that they are going to continue to broadcast Morning Glory, and they have no plans to change the show.”

Michael Warsaw, EWTN’s CEO and board chairman, told CNA that “EWTN is the producer and distributor of the 'Morning Glory' radio program. There have been no changes to the show and none are planned. EWTN does not speak for its local radio affiliates, who make their own programming decisions and have the right to carry or not carry specific EWTN radio shows. 'Morning Glory' remains part of the EWTN lineup and is still going strong!”  

Purvis, who is black, has in recent weeks been a frequent speaker in Catholic media on topics related to racial justice and police brutality. She told CNA she has faced considerable backlash from listeners and readers for expressing her views on the subject, even though, she says, her views do not conflict with Catholic teaching.

“If you look at what the Holy Fathers have talked about in terms of use of force, they’re saying that we need to approach each person as made in the image and likeness of God. And who are we as Catholics not to have a position on police brutality, in light of that teaching?” Purvis asked.

“This is a huge moment in our country, where now we have people’s attention, and shame on us if we as Catholics shy away from preaching the Gospel, shy away from those difficult discussions. No one should expect to encounter the Gospel and remain unchanged.”

Purvis said her show might be misunderstood, because she aims to emphasize an approach that tries to give a fair hearing to all voices on the issues, and “then talk from there about what the faith says, or how the faith impacts the topic. Sometimes people miss that because their focus is on how to ‘win’ and not about how we have to serve.”

Despite backlash, she said, she is not going to think twice about offering her views on racial justice. “All of this has not made me second guess. I am going to persevere.”

“Every time a citizen’s life is taken, we need to question that vigorously, not because of who is taking the life, but because of who we are as Catholics.”

Adding that she has an opinion “informed by Church teaching,” Purvis told CNA that “anytime there could be an injustice against someone else— whether it’s in the womb or in the street — we have to speak out, to help try to build a culture of life.”

In a statement released June 26, Purvis said that she “will continue to speak the truth about the human person and that includes discussing racism and other evils.”

“I do not fear the hard work of bringing the light of the Gospel to bear on these issues. Not everyone will receive the message joyfully and there will be opposition but because I love Jesus and believe in the beauty and truth of His message, I will persevere.”

“I will use whatever means the Lord gives me to spread His truth about the dignity of the human person from the womb to the tomb, from the immigrant to the citizen, from the powerful to the vulnerable. There are no throw-away people.”

Purvis has said that she feels it is her Christian obligation to speak out against racism and injustice- on “Morning Glory,” and to other media and in other platforms.

Earlier this month, she told a panel at Georgetown University that she watched the video of George Floyd’s arrest and death in horror, wanting to yell at the police officer kneeling on his neck, “Stop in the name of God! Stop!”

“I just thought the image of God is being abused right here in front of me,” she said.

She has faced backlash for her use of the popular racial justice slogan “Black Lives Matter,” although she told CNA this month that her use of the phrase does not constitute support for national Black Lives Matter organizations, whose platforms are at odds with Catholic teaching.

“For me, as a Catholic, a devout Catholic, as a loyal daughter of the Church, I have no problem saying ‘Black Lives Matter,’” she said.

“I know it doesn’t make me a member of the organization.”

Some Catholics hesitate to attend protests or other events because they say that not only “black lives matter,” but that “all lives matter,” she noted.

Purvis explained that the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is not meant to devalue the lives of others, and while all lives do matter, she has observed that “in practice” in the U.S., “what we’ve seen is that black lives don’t.”

As a pro-life Catholic, Purvis said she recognizes the eugenist roots of abortion, but said fighting racism in America shouldn’t be limited to opposing abortion. She said racism is manifested through police misconduct, housing policies, and other aspects of American public life.

Purvis converted to Catholicism when she was 12 years old, after an experience at Eucharistic adoration in her Catholic school. She later called it a “mystical experience with the Eucharist...just coming to know it was real, that it was alive, and feeling like I was consumed with a fire all over my body, but it didn’t burn.”

The host is a frequent speaker on pro-life and catechetical issues; she and her husband have been active in pro-life ministry and other parish ministry in the Archdiocese of Washington.

Purvis has served on the archdiocesan pastoral council in the Archdiocese of Washington, is a board member for the Northwest Pregnancy Center and Maternity Home in Washington, D.C. and an advisory board member on the Maryland Catholic Conference’s Respect for Life Office. She is a member of the National Black Catholic Congress’ Leadership Commission on Social Justice, and is the chairperson for Black Catholics United for Life, which seeks to increase the size and strength of active Black Catholics participating in the pro-life movement.

Catholic News Agency is a service of EWTN News.

The Guadalupe Radio Network could not be reached for comment, despite numerous telephone calls from CNA.

On Friday afternoon, the radio network released a statement online, saying it had “temporarily suspended airing the show on the GRN.” (Ed. note: emphasis original.)

“We are not bothered in the least that 'Morning Glory' took on the difficult, but needed, topic of the evil of racism. In fact, we feel our audience is looking for a clear Catholic response to all they are seeing in our society right now. It is our hope and prayer that the issues we have raised with EWTN, in regards to "Morning Glory" will be addressed properly so that we can once again proudly air this program across the GRN.”

“During these last couple of weeks we have heard a 'spirit of contention' growing among the Hosts live on-air,” the statement continued. “We feel it is clear that there is a real disconnect among the team, becoming more and more obvious, and we feel that should be addressed. We do not feel that this type of exchange is edifying, nor is it clarifying for anyone, especially a Catholic radio listener who wants clarity.”

“Never before have we received as many complaints about any EWTN show as we have about Morning Glory as of late. Our efforts to try and correct the situation before were not successful. So, we felt we had no other option other than to temporarily suspend airing this program.”

“The unfounded and uncharitable accusations hurled at GRN, without the facts, have been terrible. As you well know, Satan is the father of lies. Unfortunately, that is what is happening here in this situation - lies are being told, and spread around, on the internet about us. We hope you will help in sharing the true story!” the statement said.

The Guadalupe network, which both distributes content syndicated by EWTN and other Catholic media apostolates and produces its own content, is based in Midland, Texas, but operates more than 30 radio stations in Texas, Florida, Alabama, New Mexico, and Washington, D.C.

Purvis told CNA that she is grateful for the support she has received from listeners, but admitted that her work can be draining.

“I am tired, because, honestly, this is a lot of spiritual battle. But I am still very determined— I can’t stop bringing the light of the Gospel to today’s most pressing issues.”

“I hope you all will join me in making our culture one that is truly a culture of life. We have much work to do — together. Thank you for your ongoing support and prayers and be assured of my prayers for our human family,” Purvis said in her June 26 statement.

“Our Lady of Prompt Succor, pray for us.”


Gloria Purvis is featured in this episode of CNA Newsroom, and this bonus episode of CNA Editor's Desk.

Judge rules New York churches can reopen in line with businesses

Fri, 06/26/2020 - 16:00

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 26, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- A federal judge on Friday ruled that New York must allow indoor and outdoor religious services in the same way it would allow mass outdoor protests, or indoor shopping malls.

Judge Gary Sharpe of the Northern District of New York said that the state cannot limit outdoor religious services during the pandemic, provided that attendees follow social distancing requirements. For indoor services, he said, the state has to make the same allowances for churches as it does for other businesses.

The judgement follows a lawsuit filed on behalf of several different religious groups by the Thomas More Society. No Catholic diocese or parish was party to the suit.

The New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the bishops of the state, told CNA on Friday that churches would probably continue to follow state health guidelines for reopening, even though they are no longer bound by law to do so.

“Bishops must weigh many factors in reopening, the most important being the safety and well being of our congregations, clergy and parish staffs,” a spokesman for the conference told CNA. “We believe the guidance offered by the state is important to achieving that goal.”

The state had already allowed some churches in the state to hold services at 33% indoor capacity, where that particular jurisdiction had reached phase IV of reopening. Churches in other areas have been allowed to offer Mass at 25% capacity.

New York City, currently in the second reopening phase, had allowed some indoor offices, retail stores, and salons to operate at 50% capacity while churches were restricted to 25% capacity.

Judge Sharpe on Friday said that those businesses are “not justifiably different than houses of worship” in the risk they pose to the spread of the virus.

Furthermore, state officials showed preferential treatment by allowing or even encouraging mass outdoor protests and 150-person outdoor graduation ceremonies, while subjecting religious gatherings to ten or 25-person outdoor gathering limits, he said.

Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have both appeared to condone or even encourage mass outdoor anti-racism protests attended by hundreds and thousands of people in recent weeks, despite strict state limits on the size of outdoor gatherings to 10 or 25 people.

On June 2, de Blasio defended his selective enforcement of gathering restrictions, saying that "[w]hen you see a nation, an entire nation simultaneously grappling with an extraordinary crisis seeded in 400 years of American racism, I'm sorry, that is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved store owner or the devout religious person who wants to go back to services.”

By their words, Cuomo and de Blasio endorsed “what they knew was a flagrant disregard of the outdoor limits and social distancing rules,” the judge said, thus sending “a clear message that mass protests are deserving of preferential treatment.”

They could have verbally discouraged or remained silent on the protests while suspending any enforcement of outdoor gathering restrictions, Judge Sharpe said, and thus could have remained within the law.

Christopher Ferrara, special counsel for the Thomas More Society, stated that Judge Sharpe “was able to see through the sham of Governor Cuomo’s ‘Social Distancing Protocol’ which went right out the window as soon as he and Mayor de Blasio saw a mass protest movement they favored taking to the streets by the thousands.”

Lawyers from the Thomas More Society originally brought the lawsuit on June 10, on behalf of three Orthodox Jewish congregants from Brooklyn and two priests of the Society of St. Pius X, a group in irregular communion with the Catholic Church, which operates independently of the dioceses of the state, and does not recognize the local bishops' authority.

The lawsuit charged that Cuomo, state attorney general Letitia James, and de Blasio all violated religious freedom, free speech, and due process in their public health restrictions during the pandemic.

The state and city put more burdensome restrictions on churches than they did on some businesses and mass protests, the lawsuit alleged, creating “a veritable dictatorship” where they “selectively enforced ‘social distancing’ under a ‘lockdown’” in the state, while carving out “numerous exceptions” in line with “their value judgments.” 

De Blasio has on multiple occasions during the pandemic threatened houses of worship with fines, permanent closure, and mass arrests if they would not comply with public health orders.

Missouri's last abortion clinic receives license

Fri, 06/26/2020 - 14:09

CNA Staff, Jun 26, 2020 / 12:09 pm (CNA).- The Missouri health department issued a license to the state's only abortion clinic Thursday. Its license had been revoked a year ago over regulators' concerns about health and safety problems at the clinic.

The state's Administrative Hearing Commission had ruled last month that the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services was wrong not to renew Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region's license to perform abortions.

The health department inspected the clinic in St. Louis before granting the license June 25. If it should want to appeal the ruling from the Administrative Hearing Commission, the health department must do so by June 29.

The license had been revoked in June 2019, but the administrative commission and a state judge both granted a temporary stay of the health department’s decision, allowing the clinic to remain open while the case was reviewed.

The health department has cited an “unprecedented lack of cooperation” on the part of the St. Louis clinic, as well as a “failure to meet basic standards of patient care,” identifying four instances of failed abortion procedures at the clinic; among these, one of the mothers developed sepsis, and another was hospitalized with life threatening complications.

According to the health department, Planned Parenthood went back on its agreement to perform pelvic examinations as a “preoperative health requirement.” Several doctors at the clinic refused requests to provide interviews with the health department, and the clinic would not have been prepared for a case of a woman who suffered “severe hemorrhaging” at a hospital before being referred to Planned Parenthood.

A 2016 report on an inspection of the clinic by the health department shows that the clinic at that time was in violation of multiple state standards involving the sterilization and storing of equipment, and the proper documentation of medication and procedures.

Planned Parenthood has accused the state of weaponizing the regulatory process and claimed the state has admitted the pelvic exams are “medically unnecessary.”

In October 2019 Planned Parenthood opened a new clinic in Fairview Heights, Ill., just 15 miles east of St. Louis.

Yamelsie Rodriguez, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said that women are seeking abortions in Illinois due to more permissive abortion laws. Missouri also has a 72-hour waiting period for abortion.

Earlier this month a federal appellate court dismissed a lawsuit filed by a member of the Satanic Temple against Missouri’s informed consent abortion law, rejecting the argument that the law established Catholic religious belief by stating that life begins at conception.

“Any theory of when life begins necessarily aligns with some religious beliefs and not others,” said U.S. Circuit Judge David R. Stras in a June 9 decision from the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Under the plaintiff’s theory, the decision said, “Missouri’s only option would be to avoid legislating in this area altogether.”

State law requires abortion providers to distribute a booklet from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services which includes the statement: “The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”

Missouri enacted a comprehensive abortion ban in 2019, which Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed into law. The legislation was supported by Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis.

Missouri’s law set up a multi-tier ban on abortions after eight weeks, 14 weeks, 18 weeks and 20 weeks, as well as bans on abortions conducted solely because of the baby’s race, sex, or Down syndrome diagnosis. In August 2019 a federal judge struck down all of the bans related to the stages of pregnancy, but left intact the disability, race, and sex-selective abortion bans.

With release of sex abuse report, National Review Board cautions against complacency 

Fri, 06/26/2020 - 05:00

CNA Staff, Jun 26, 2020 / 03:00 am (CNA).- The head of the National Review Board has called for increased action to fight sex abuse and avoid complacency, following the release this week of a report on sex abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church.

“We know that many current bishops have seriously confronted clerical sexual abuse, which is borne out in the Annual Report,” said Francesco C. Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board. “Yet, the Report also evidences areas in need of improvement that will necessitate an on-going effort in addressing this issue in a way that will require courageous leadership, as well as an openness to the co-responsibility of the laity in responding to this ever-present crisis.”

He warned that even limited failures can present a significant problem for the Church in the U.S. The National Review Board is calling for a more in-depth audit and updates to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, he said.

“We continue to see the failure to publish reporting procedures in the various languages in which the liturgy is celebrated; poor recordkeeping of background checks; dysfunctional Diocesan Review Boards; lack of a formal monitoring plan for priests who have been removed from ministry; failure to update policies and procedures in light of the 2011 Charter revisions,” he said.

While these problems are not widespread, they do recur and are evident in 25% to 30% of dioceses. Cesareo said this indicates “lack of diligence that puts children’s safety at risk.”

“The apparent resistance by some parishes and schools to provide safe environment training places children at greater risk,” he said. “Although dioceses continue to do good work in creating cultures of protection and healing, the fact remains the Church’s efforts will be measured based on the weakest links. If one diocese is at risk, the whole Church is also at risk.”

The annual report on Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was released June 25 by the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection. It is the seventeenth report since the charter was implemented in 2002.

The Rochester, New York-based consulting firm StoneBridge Business Partners conducted the audit. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate conducted a survey included in the report.

The audit found three instances of non-compliance with the charter: the Oakland diocese failed to evaluate a visiting priest's background and there were a non-functioning review boards in both the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia and the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese.

Additionally, non-participants in the audit were the Eparchy of St. Mary Queen of Peace, the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle, and the Eparchy of St. Nicholas of Chicago.

Out of more than 37,000 diocesan and religious order priests, there were 37 allegations involving current year minors, of which 8 were substantiated and the priests were removed from ministry. Twelve allegations are still under investigation, 7 were ruled unsubstantiated, 6 were unable to be proven. Another three have been referred to religious orders, and one was referred to another diocese.

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in the report’s preface that all of these allegations were reported to law enforcement. He said the numbers indicate that new cases of sex abuse by clerics are rare.

“Of course, every case is one too many, and we remain vigilant and determined to prevent this evil,” the archbishop said. He stressed the efforts to implement policies and programs to protect young people and create safe environments in parishes, schools and other Catholic ministries.

Hundreds of thousands of adults have been trained to prevent abuse and to report it, while leaders have been put through extensive background checks, Gomez said. Dioceses have implemented strict reporting requirements, and work closely with law enforcement to report alleged abuse and to remove accused abusers from ministry, he said.

“My brother bishops and I want to apologize to all those who have endured abuse at the hands of someone in the Church and we want to express our pastoral commitment to helping every victim-survivor find healing and hope,” the archbishop said.

“From out of the failures of our past, Catholic dioceses across the country have worked hard to put in place policies and programs to protect young people and to create safe environments in our parishes, schools and other ministries.”

The report concerns the audit period of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. In that time, 4,220 adults brought forward 4,434 allegations. This is a significant increase in allegations, which the report attributed in part to additional allegations received in the wake of lawsuits, compensation programs, the reviews of clergy files, and bankruptcies.

By comparison, last year's report for the 2017-2018 audit period said 1,385 adults reported 1,455 new allegations, the vast majority of which concerned historical instances of abuse. Those numbers represent a marked rise over the 2016-2017 reporting period. Last year's report attributed the escalation to the state-wide adoption of Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Programs by Catholic dioceses of New York State.

The latest reporting period followed the June 2018 revelations that the deeply influential ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Washington, had for decades sexually abused teen boys and young men, including seminarians. A Pennsylvania grand jury report released later in 2018 also examined sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

About 80% of newly reported victims of diocesan clergy were male, while 20% were female. The report said 59% of alleged abuse began when the victim was aged 10-14, while 22% involved victims aged 9 or under.

Among the newly reported allegations, abuse by diocesan clergy peaked in 1970-1974. According to the report, 50% of alleged abuse occurred or began before 1975, 45% between 1975 and 1999, and 5% after 2000.

About 43% of alleged perpetrators in diocesan clergy did not have prior allegations against them, while 57% did. Ninety percent of alleged diocesan offenders are deceased, already removed from ministry, already laicized, or missing. Forty priests or deacons identified as alleged abusers in 2019 were permanently removed from ministry.

Diocese and eparchies that responded to the survey reported over $281 million in costs related to sex abuse allegations in the 2018-2019 period. About 71% of this went to settlements for victims, while 15% went to attorney fees. Religious institutes, which are handled in a separate category, paid over $41 million. Besides settlements and legal expenses, these costs include support for offenders and other payments to victims for purposes including therapy, living expenses, or legal expenses.

In last year's audit period, dioceses and eparchies provided outreach and support to 1,138 families who had newly reported abuse, while they provided continued support to 1,851 survivors and their families who had previously reported abuse.

Catholic churches and organizations conducted over 2.6 million background checks on clergy, employees and volunteers. More than 2.6 million adults and 3.6 million children and young people were trained in abuse awareness and reporting.

In February 2019, Pope Francis held the first-ever global summit on protecting minors in the Church. In May 2019, the pope issued new norms in the document “Vos Estis,” aiming to hold bishops and religious superiors accountable when they are accused of abuse or when they are accused of mishandling abuse allegations.

Cessario said the promulgation of Vos Estis and U.S. bishops' efforts to enact it “signaled an important and positive response” in the wake of revelations about McCarrick.

“Nonetheless, subsequent revelations of episcopal wrongdoing, the establishment of compensation plans for victims, the announcement of new grand jury investigations in several states, the filing of new lawsuits regarding abuse, and a growing desire among the laity for greater involvement in addressing this issue has led many to question whether the audit is sufficiently adequate to determine if a culture of safety within dioceses has taken root,” he said.

Cessario said the National Review Board has called for a “more in-depth audit,” as well as “a further revision of the Charter that will incorporate new practices, such as parish audits, offering greater assurance of compliance.”

Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, wrote a Feb. 28 letter included in the report. He reflected on how the abuse crisis has affected Catholics' faith.

“For some, this crisis has strengthened their faith and resolve – has confirmed the importance of keeping the faith and ultimately relying on the mercy, goodness, and plan of God,” he said. “For others, this crisis has destroyed lives and faith and trust in God. The theological implications point to the need to reconnect appropriately with God and with each other. Understanding what is happening in the Church and Her response is part of the solution.”

Nojadera noted the need to develop and maintain “right relationships” with young people and the vulnerable to help the Church learn and grow amid the sex abuse crisis.

“Only by promoting a culture of protection and healing can we prevent the evil of sexual abuse and bring true healing to those affected by this crime,” he said, emphasizing the need for continued vigilance.

The U.S. bishops' statement on the report's release said that the audit and the continued application of zero-tolerance policies are “two important tools in the Church's broader program of creating a culture of protection and healing that exceeds the requirements of the Charter.”



San Juan Capistrano Mission relocates St. Junipero Serra statues for protection 

Thu, 06/25/2020 - 18:34

CNA Staff, Jun 25, 2020 / 04:34 pm (CNA).- Two statues of St. Junipero Serra have been moved from a Catholic mission and church in southern California amid fears of vandalism as protests around the state continue to topple statues.

The Mission San Juan Capistrano and its neighboring church have removed statues of Serra from their outside displays this week.

Diocese of Orange spokeswoman Tracey Kincaid told the OC Register that the Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano moved the statue “out of precaution.” The statue, which was anchored to a pedestal at the entrance, was removed on June 23.

The mission next door relocated the statute from its front courtyard to its Sala building. The 104-year-old statue has been displayed for almost 80 years. It will soon be part of a mission exhibit on the life of Serra.

“The statue was moved to ensure its protection and was relocated to also ensure its continued access to the public,” mission staff said in a June 24 Facebook post.

The basilica was built in 1986 to accommodate the growing Catholic community, which outgrew the mission’s smaller Serra Chapel. The Mission San Juan Capistrano was established by Serra in 1776.

Serra statues are among numerous depictions of historic figures pulled down in the past week 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.

During the eighteenth century, Serra 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 Bl. 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.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco issued a June 20 statement highlighting the saint’s good works, saying, “St. Serra made heroic sacrifices to protect the indigenous people of California from their Spanish conquerors, especially the soldiers…”

“For the past 800 years, the various Franciscan orders of brothers, sisters and priests that trace their inspiration back to him have been exemplary of not only serving, but identifying with, the poor and downtrodden and giving them their rightful dignity as children of God,” the archbishop said.

The California Catholic Conference of Bishops similarly defended Serra, saying, “The historical truth is that Serra repeatedly pressed the Spanish authorities for better treatment of the Native American communities. Serra was not simply a man of his times.”

“In working with Native Americans, he was a man ahead of his times who made great sacrifices to defend and serve the indigenous population and work against an oppression that extends far beyond the mission era,” they said.

“And if that is not enough to legitimate a public statue in the state that he did so much to create, then virtually every historical figure from our nation's past will have to be removed for their failings measured in the light of today's standards.”


Don’t deport Haitians during pandemic, Miami archbishop appeals

Thu, 06/25/2020 - 13:48

CNA Staff, Jun 25, 2020 / 11:48 am (CNA).- Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski has called for a moratorium on the United States’ deportation of Haitians during the coronavirus pandemic, warning that Haiti’s healthcare system is not prepared to manage a widespread coronavirus outbreak.

“An ongoing surge of infection could destroy an already weakened economy and exacerbate political instability,” Wenski wrote in a June 19 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“Haiti’s health system’s capacity to respond to COVID-19 cases is already at its limit, making the possible influx of new cases especially dangerous. I urge you to stop the deportations of individuals to Haiti at this time during COVID-19 in the interest of public health and stability in Haiti.”

Haitian health experts estimate that the country, with a population of 11 million, has only 39 physicians to manage COVID-19, 124 ICU beds and the capacity to ventilate 62 people, Wenski said.

Wenski himself has ministered to the Haitian population in Miami and in Haiti— Miami is home to hundreds of thousands of Haitian immigrants and people of Haitian descent. He said a larger COVID-19 outbreak in Haiti could push more Haitians to leave their country to seek work or opportunities elsewhere.

“Because of their ongoing ties to Haiti, including supporting relatives through remittances, they do not want to see Haiti further destabilized by a deportation policy that threatens to undermine the public health and safety of the people of Haiti,” Wenski continued.

In addition, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities have in many areas become sites for COVID-19 outbreaks, as testing for the disease still is not widespread in many facilities.

“I again respectfully request that you halt deportations during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent further destabilization in Haiti, and to prevent massive loss of lives,” Wenski said.

A group of some 300 activists and celebrities sent a similar letter to Pompeo on June 19.

As of June 24, Haiti has 5,429 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 92 people have died of the disease, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

The United States had designated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on Haiti during 2010, in response to the massive earthquake that led many Haitians to flee their country.

The earthquake killed 200,000 people and left one million homeless. At that time, the Department of Homeland Security temporarily halted deportations to Haiti due to the danger of sending Haitians back to the decimated country.

A decade after the quake, tens of thousands are still living in tent camps, many without running water or means of sanitation.

Hurricane Matthew’s landfall in Haiti caused tremendous damage in October 2016, with the Category 4 storm putting more than 1.4 million people in need of emergency aid.

The Trump administration decided not to renew the Temporary Protected Status designation for Haiti in November 2017. In April 2019, however, a federal court ruled that Haiti’s TPS status would remain in effect pending further court order. As of 2018, there were at least 46,000 Haitians in the U.S. who qualified for the TPS program.

Violent protests have erupted intermittently in the country since July 2018, with protesters calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, who has been accused of mismanaging billions in aid given to the country after Hurricane Matthew.


‘No justice, no peace’ reflects Catholic principles for police reform, bishops say

Thu, 06/25/2020 - 12:00

CNA Staff, Jun 25, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- As police reform legislation is currently stuck in the Senate, leading U.S. bishops wrote members of Congress on Wednesday outlining Catholic principles of policing.

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, and Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux sent a joint letter to members of Congress on Wednesday “in the wake of the terrible and unjust killing of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and so many more.”

While many might wish for peace during the present unrest, there can be no true peace without justice, the bishops said.

“When protesters shout, ‘No justice, no peace,’ perhaps without realizing it, they are paraphrasing an axiom of the Church,” the letter said. “A police force that is accountable to its highest standards – discipline, self-control, mercy, and the recognition that every person is made in the image of God – can promote justice and thus bring about peace.”

The three bishops hold key positions within the U.S. bishops’ conference. Archbishop Coakley chairs the domestic justice committee, Bishop Dorsonville chairs the migration committee, and Bishop Fabre chairs the anti-racism committee. In their letter, they wrote that the deaths of Floyd, Brooks, and others have exposed the need for serious reform and accountability in policing.

While acknowledging the purpose of law enforcement “to promote justice and the common good in society,” the bishops wrote on Wednesday that “it is clear that there have been too many failures in serving everyone, with tragic consequences.”

Reform is necessary, they urged, “so that real accountability can happen before more lives are lost.”

The letter comes as the Senate failed to pass the JUSTICE Act, sponsored by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) on Wednesday in the wake of mass protests against racism and police brutality in recent weeks.

Scott’s bill would fund jurisdictions that implement de-escalation tactics, would end the use of chokeholds, would put more body cameras on officers, and pushed departments to investigate prior disciplinary history of officer candidates, among other policies.

However, Senate Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus said the legislation was “insufficient” and the bill failed to receive the necessary 60 votes for floor consideration. House Democrats have introduced their own legislation, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which among other things would ban racial profiling by police, ban chokeholds, prohibit no-knock warrants in drug cases, eliminate qualified immunity for officers, ban limit access of local departments to military equipment, and amend the standards for federal civil rights lawsuits to “reckless” from “willful” police misconduct.

President Trump signed an executive order on police reform on June 16, but Democrats also argued that it did not go far enough.

Racism, the bishops wrote on Wednesday, “remains a problem in the criminal justice system.”

They cited previous letters by the conference on the matter, drawing attention to disproportionately harsh treatment of people of color by police or the fear of many in the African-American community of interactions with police officers given the number of police killings of African-Americans.

In their letter, the bishops quoted Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, “[w]hen a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility.”

The bishops encouraged several policies currently under consideration including “collection of data on use-of-force, training towards de-escalation, work to end racial profiling, doing away with chokeholds,” as well as “using body cameras.”

Pope Francis has spoken out about the current unrest in the U.S. praying for the repose of the soul of George Floyd on June 3.

“We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we have to recognize that the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating,” the pope said.

Pro-life laws advance in Iowa, Mississippi, Tennessee

Thu, 06/25/2020 - 06:00

CNA Staff, Jun 25, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).- Three state legislatures have passed new restrictions on abortion: a heartbeat-based abortion ban in Tennessee; a 24-hour waiting period on abortion in Iowa; and a ban on abortion due to race, sex or genetic anomaly of the unborn child in Mississippi.
The Tennessee Senate passed a ban on abortion 30 minutes after midnight on June 19 by a 23-5 party line vote, after it was previously passed in the House of Representatives, the The Tennessean reports.
Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List praised the bill, saying “Tennessee’s landmark new law includes some of the strongest protections in the nation for unborn children and their mothers.”
The legislation bars abortion after the point at which a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy. It bars abortion if a woman is known to be seeking an abortion because of the unborn child’s sex or race, or because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome. The law bars abortions for juveniles in the custody of the state’s Department of Children’s Services, and removes the ability to petition a judge for permission for an abortion.
The law would allow abortion if a woman’s life is in danger but not if the unborn child is conceived in rape or incest.
Under the law, a doctor must determine the gestational age of the unborn child and inform the mother, allow the woman to hear the fetal heartbeat and explain the location of the unborn child in her uterus, conduct an ultrasound and display the images to the mother. The abortionist must provide an explanation of the unborn child’s size and explain which external body parts and internal organs are present and visible.
A heartbeat-based abortion ban passed the Tennessee House last year but Republican Lt. Gov. Randy McNally did not support it in the Senate.
Similar laws in Mississippi, Ohio and other states have been struck down in court.
If the courts strike down Tennessee’s heartbeat-based abortion ban, the legislation would automatically enact a ban on abortion at ten different gradations: eight, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 weeks into pregnancy.
A doctor who performs an illegal abortion would face a Class C felony, should the bill become law.
Due to the novel coronavirus epidemic, the bill was thought to be shelved. It appeared to have revived in last-minute negotiations between the House and Senate, The Tennessean reports. The Senate rules were suspended when the bill was passed and no members of the public were present.
Ashley Coffield, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Tennessee and North Mississippi, charged that the bill’s passage violated the spirit of democracy as Planned Parenthood brought litigation against the bill.
“In the dead of night, Tennessee politicians hellbent on chipping away at abortion access blocked citizens from entering the state Capitol while they used this draconian abortion ban to pass the state budget,” she said. “While Tennesseans are concerned about their health and safety during a pandemic, politicians used women’s lives as a bargaining chip to push their political agenda.”
Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the bill, charging that it was unconstitutional.
Under the legislation, abortion clinics must post a sign saying that it is possible to reverse a chemical abortion, or face a $10,000 fine.
Similar Arizona legislation, passed in 2015, was repealed in 2016 after legal challenges. The State of Arizona had to pay Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers more than $600,000 in attorney fees and other costs spent fighting the law, the Associated Press reported.
In Iowa, the House and Senate passed a 24-hour waiting period requirement for abortion early June 15, KCCI News reports. The legislation also requires a woman to view ultrasounds of the unborn child and to receive information on adoption.
The legislation was passed amid a partisan battle.

Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Dubuque, said the passage of the bill showed her party is “always thinking ahead and thinking about how we can advance the life movement in the state of Iowa.” Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Woodbury, another supporter, said the legislation showed consistency in “our commitment to humanity.”
Democratic lawmakers objected to the bill, charging that Republican lawmakers exploited the coronavirus epidemic to advance the legislation.
Rep. Jo Oldson, House Democratic Whip, said the bill was released on a Saturday night so that legislators wouldn’t have to hear from voters.
“It's time for Iowa Republican lawmakers to be more transparent and stop the relentless attacks on the rights of Iowa women,” she said.
Planned Parenthood charged that legislators “prioritized their personal ideologies at the expense of our sexual and reproductive health freedom.”
On June 23 abortion backers Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed a court challenge against the bill, seeking a temporary injunction to block the law from taking effect July 1.
Erin Davison-Rippey, Iowa executive director of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said the legislation could in practice delay abortion “by weeks,” and called the bill “a political ploy to create barriers to sexual and reproductive health care in Iowa.”
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has not yet signed the bill but she is strongly pro-life and is expected to sign the bill into law.
In 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court voted 5-2 to reject a 72-hour waiting period for abortion. For the first time, the court ruled that the Iowa state constitution guarantees a right to abortion. The decision strongly entrenched the place of abortion in state law.
Reynolds has since appointed four Supreme Court justices, causing some to think a different decision could result from the litigation, the Des Moines Register reports.
In Mississippi, the legislature backed a bill to ban abortion based on race, sex or genetic anomalies. Supporters said it would bar abortion for conditions including Down syndrome.
On June 23 the Mississippi House of Representatives passed the bill by 91 to 25, after the Senate gave strong approval to the bill, the Associated Press reports.
Sue Liebel, state policy director for Susan B. Anthony List, praised the bill.
“Abortions carried out because of a baby’s sex, race, or potential disability, such as Down syndrome, constitutes modern-day eugenics,” she said.
Beth Orlansky, advocacy director for the Mississippi Center for Justice, was a critic.
“This unconstitutional restriction adversely affects poor women who do not have the means to seek assistance elsewhere,” she said.
Violation of the law could mean up to 10 years in prison for a doctor or other health care worker. The law specifically states that the woman seeking the abortion would not be punished. The ban allows abortion in cases of medical emergencies.
Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is expected to sign the bill, but pro-abortion rights groups are expected to file a legal challenge.


Worldwide, children living in institutional care do better with families, Lancet commission says

Wed, 06/24/2020 - 19:13

Denver Newsroom, Jun 24, 2020 / 05:13 pm (CNA).- The millions of children separated from their families around the world would do best in a family environment, not institutional care, and leaders should prioritize a collaborative, well-managed shift toward family-centered care, according a report from a commission based in the Lancet Group of medical journals.

“The global intent to provide optimal care for separated children has never been greater. Momentum to move children from institutions and into families is building, led by welcomed evidence and practical leadership from many sectors within child health, child protection, and social welfare,” said the report’s executive summary, authored by The Lancet Psychiatry editor-in-chief Niall Boyce; Jane Godsland, editor-in-chief of The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health; and King's College London professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke.
“It is essential that governments, voluntary organizations, and health and social care professionals work together so that action is not taken precipitately, with potentially unintended adverse consequences, but is instead timely, sustainable, and child-centered,” they said.
The last century in North America and most of Europe has seen a major shift toward family-based care.
“The same shift elsewhere in the world is urgently needed,” said the commission report’s executive summary.
As of 2015, 5-6 million children were estimated to live in institutions such as orphanages and residential homes in some 137 countries, most of which are low or middle income. In some countries this number has decreased, but in others the numbers have increased due to HIV. The commission said factors driving institutionalization include poverty, social deprivation, poor parenting skills, illness and disability of the child or the carer, natural and manmade disasters, and child abuse and neglect.
Institutional care is usually inconsistent, with poorly paid and poorly trained staff. High staff turnover hurts the possibility of building relationships and providing basic standards of care. Children might suffer mistreatment from both staff and their peers.
“Institutional care denies children and adolescents access to kinship networks that have a major role in many societies,” the commission report said.
“Institutionalization often has a profound effect on a child’s physical and psychological development and can be associated with long-term mental health problems,” the report continued. At least 80% of institutionalized children were below average in physical growth and cognitive development, and they face greater risk of attachment problems. There are “strong negative associations between institutional care and children’s development, especially in relation to physical growth, cognition and attention.”
The effects could be especially harmful to babies and young children aged six to 24 months. Longer stays in institutions are associated with larger delays in development. These effects can be “rapidly reversed, especially in physical growth and brain growth, but the children most affected can face longer-term effects.” However, the situation of these children “rapidly improves” when they leave institutions for family-based care in adoption, kinship, or foster care.
“Moving children from institutions to families requires the coordination of an integrated set of global, national, and local initiatives,” the commission said. “Only a combined effort that links national and international policies and resources with local knowledge and practices can create meaningful, sustainable change. Global development, governmental, donor, faith-based, and volunteer agencies need to work together to transform care systems, address the drivers of institutionalization, support child protection, and end child trafficking.”
The commission encouraged policy makers to reconsider incentives that support children's institutions, including tax breaks for donations, financial transfers and volunteer tourism “voluntourism” to visit children's institutions. Rather, policymakers should incentivize the promotion of family-based care.
National frameworks must be established to eliminate institutions and to reform care for children in need, with good data collection and monitoring of care. Workforce development is needed for new professions that support family-based care, and funding should be redirected from institutions to family-based care in “a deliberate, phased and safe manner.” The ultimate goal should be “safe, sustainable, and nurturing family-based care for every child.”
The means to this goal should include strengthening family-based alternatives, a broader child protection system, and the progressive elimination of institutions.
The report pointed to the Rwanda program Let’s Raise Children in Families as an example. That program has the support of the government, the Catholic Church, and many other non-profit groups.
Sonuga-Barke, the King's College London professor, chaired the Lancet group commission on the subject of institutionalization and deinstitutionalization of children. The commission’s leaders are 22 experts on reforming care for children. Its report includes a review and a meta-analysis of the effects of institutionalization and de-institutionalization, plus 14 policy recommendations.
The first part of the commission’s work was published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, while the second part was published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal. Sonuga-Barke said this work is both “a call to action to end the scourge of institutionalization” and “a carefully considered and practical plan of action for agencies working at all levels across the international community.”
“Building on the very welcome growing momentum for a shift from institutional to family-based care, this commission calls for a step change in the rate of de-institutionalization and the promotion and delivery of high-quality family-based care alternatives,” he said.
Religious organizations have a role in this work.
“Faith-based organizations and leaders should work with other stakeholders and use their voices to change knowledge, attitudes, and practices in their communities to promote the protection of children in family-based care, and to strengthen families,” the Lancet group journals said June 23.
The commission was supported by the Lumos Foundation and led by Lumos, King’s College London, and the global child welfare advocacy group Maestral International.
Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ international aid agency, has been active in working to move children from institutions to family-based care. In October 2018, the agency launched its “Changing the Way We Care” program. As of February 2020, CRS-backed programs to change care systems have begun in Guatemala, Kenya, and Moldova. It hopes to expand these programs to Haiti, India, Indonesia, and Lebanon.
The initiative is joined by the Lumos Foundation and Maestral International, the same groups that supported the Lancet group’s commission. CRS partners include national governments, the Better Care Network, and the Faith to Action Initiative.  The program itself is backed by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the MacArthur Foundation, and the GHR Foundation.
“With COVID-19, we have been working on being agile so we can continue our work supporting governments and local actors in these countries to continue to support children and families,” Megan Gilbert, a CRS spokesperson, told CNA June 23. “In other words, we are continuing with the work despite the coronavirus, and we are considering the impact the virus has on families and children.”

‘I cannot remain silent’: Madison Catholic bishop condemns destruction of religious statues

Wed, 06/24/2020 - 18:08

Denver Newsroom, Jun 24, 2020 / 04:08 pm (CNA).- As rioters across the United States target statues depicting historical figures, the Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin on Tuesday denounced that destruction, along with calls to destroy some depictions of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgina Mary.

“Should certain statues be placed in museums or storage? Perhaps. Should we let a group of vandals make those decisions for us? No,” Bishop Donald Hying of Madison said in a June 23 letter.

“If we allow the commemorative and visual history of our nation to be destroyed by random groups in the current moment of anger, how will we ever learn from that history? Does toppling and vandalizing a statue of George Washington because he owned slaves, really serve our country and our collective memory?” 

Hying also responded to a recent viral tweet from podcast host and activist Shaun King, who said June 22 that “statues of the white European they claim is Jesus” are a form of “white supremacy” and ought to be torn down, along with “all murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus, and his European mother, and their white friends.”

Hying noted that every culture, country, ethnicity, and race “has claimed Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary as their own,” depicting them with their culture’s skin color and dressed in their culture’s garb. 

The Catechism states in paragraph 1149, that “the liturgy of the Church presupposes, integrates and sanctifies elements from creation and human culture, conferring on them the dignity of signs of grace, of the new creation in Jesus Christ.”

For example, the bishop mentioned, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared as “mestiza,” or “mixed” race; African art depicts Jesus as black, and Mary in African cultural garb; and there are numerous Asian representations of Mary as well.

While at some points in the Church’s history, some have mistakenly equated “the fullness of Catholicism with European culture,” Catholics should instead strive for “unity in that which is essential, and diversity in those things which are not,” Hying said.

“In this context, are white representations of Christ and His Mother inherently signs of white supremacy? I think not. Because the Son of God became incarnate in our human flesh, does not all of humanity – every race, tribe, and tongue – have the spiritual ability to depict Him through the particular lens of their own culture?” the bishop asked.

Depictions of Jesus are holy to Christians, he said— they are physical manifestations of God’s love, and remind us of the “nearness of the divine.”

“The secular iconoclasm of the current moment will not bring reconciliation, peace, and healing. Such violence will only perpetuate the prejudice and hatred it ostensibly seeks to end...Only the love of Christ can heal a wounded heart, not a vandalized piece of metal,” Hying concluded.

In Madison on Tuesday, rioters pulled down a statue of Hans Christian Heg— an abolitionist who famously fought against Confederates and slave-catchers— and threw it into Madison's Lake Monona. Though the Heg statue has since been recovered, it suffered serious damage and is missing its head and a leg.

A statue known as “Lady Forward”— a replica of a famous statue created by a woman, and depicting progress— also was torn down and was dragged at least a block through the center of Madison by rioters.

Across the country, protestors have in recent days toppled statutes of Confederate leaders and figures associated with slavery, but have also, in some places, pulled down statues of Catholic saints, abolitionists, and other figures.

The violence in Madison reached a fever pitch Tuesday night when protestors attacked and injured State Senator Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) near the Wisconsin state capitol, ostensibly because Carpenter was filming the protests with his phone.

Speaking to CNA on Tuesday, Hying emphasized that many of the most successful protests of the Civil Rights era were predicated on Christian ideas of nonviolence, and a Scriptural understanding of the human person.

The principles of Catholic social teaching— the dignity of the human person; the value of solidarity, "we're all in this together;" a preferential option for the poor— need to be present in any Catholic's response to injustice, he said. 

"If it's not grounded in that, then it really ends up being about power— that I need to assert my power, in situations where I feel powerless," he explained.

"It becomes a struggle over power, rather than a transformational relationship into how God wants us to live as brothers and sisters."

Some Catholic figures on social media have called for bishops to attend the rallies in their cities and physically prevent rioters from tearing down statues. 

Hying said anything a bishop does in public must be rooted in a "prayerful, spiritual response," and not in any political motivation.

Any political movement that does not recognize the dignity of every person is prone to "power politics" and violence, Hying said.

"I think our presence always needs to be related to a prayerful presence. If we're going to be somewhere publicly, I don't think it's in a rally context, I don't think it's in a political has to be a context of prayer. Otherwise I think it can get co-opted by the politics of the moment."

Many Catholics and even some bishops have attended and prayed at peaceful rallies across the country.

Hying said it is clear to him that the violence and ill-treatment of Native Americans and the oppression of African Americans through slavery are two of the country’s greatest moral failings.

The situation requires, he wrote in his letter, better knowledge of history and respectful discussions about statues, buildings, and memorials.

“We must study and know this history in order to transcend it, to learn from it and to commit ourselves to justice, equality, and solidarity because of it,” Hying said.

“At the same time, even the worst aspects of history should be remembered and kept before our eyes. Auschwitz remains open as both a memorial and a museum, so that humanity never forgets the horror of the Holocaust.”

Protestors in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park tore down a statue of St. Junipero Serra on June 20, along with statues of Francis Scott Key and Ulysses S. Grant. In Los Angeles the same day, rioters pulled down a statue of Serra in the city’s downtown.

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

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco decried “mob rule” that led to the tearing down of Serra’s statue in his city. Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, Washington, a California native, also condemned the statues’ destruction.

“The Church, by no means, desires injustice to go unanswered, but two wrongs do not make a right. If we cannot acknowledge the good of a saint such as Junipero Serra, we risk preferring ideology to the truth,” Daly said June 22.


Trump signs order to support work with faith groups on adoption

Wed, 06/24/2020 - 18:00

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 24, 2020 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to bolster the federal government’s work with community and faith-based groups in adoption and foster care.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that the order “lays out bold reforms for our work with states, communities, and faith-based partners.”

According to the HHS, the order will encourage better partnerships between states and faith-based and community organizations in adoption and foster care, help publicize best practices, and states and local authorities to recruit more foster and adoptive families.

Bethany Christian Services, which provides social services in more than 30 states and more than a dozen countries, praised the order for its insistence that the federal government work together with community and faith-based organizations in an “‘all hands on deck’ approach.”

The group said Wednesday that the new order “underscores the need for all facets of our nation to work better together for the sake of vulnerable children: governments, states, nonprofit partners, faith communities, and families.”

HHS says the order will also “increase the availability of trauma-informed training” to help caregivers, and investigate possible “barriers to federal assistance” for youth leaving foster care.

There are currently around 430,000 children in the foster care system, according to HHS. Nearly 20,000 children age out of the system each year without having been adopted. 

“We must improve equitable outcomes within our child welfare system through child and family-centric innovative solutions and a collaborative ‘all hands on deck’ approach,” Bethany said. “One sector of society can't meet this need on its own; it will take all of us working together.”

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA)--which won a free speech case at the Supreme Court in 2018--also applauded the order. The group’s president Thomas Glessner stated on Wednesday that “we cannot talk about the end of abortion in America without mentioning adoption as a solution.”

White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway told reporters on Wednesday that the order would aim to bolster foster care and adoption agencies which have been affected by the pandemic.

The pandemic posed serious challenges for social services agencies in matching foster children with families, and for the routines of the children themselves.

A staff member at St. Vincent Catholic Charities in Lansing, Michigan, told CNA in April that the disruption to the childrens’ routines of meeting with birth parents or school friends was “a trauma” for them.

The executive order comes ahead of a Supreme Court case involving Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia. In 2018, the city stopped referrals of foster children with the organization due to its faith-based stance on marriage. The case has been scheduled for the Supreme Court’s fall 2020 term.

Fathers’ Day: When a dad became a priest, like his son

Wed, 06/24/2020 - 05:00

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 24, 2020 / 03:00 am (CNA).- Edmond Ilg, 62, has been a father since the birth of his son in 1986. 

But on June 21, he became a “father” in a whole new sense: Edmond was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark. 

It was Father’s Day. And making the day more special, it was Edmond’s son -- Fr. Philip -- who vested his father at ordination. 

“To be with Philip is a tremendous gift,  and to have him pray over me and invest me is the greatest gift,” said Edmond. His son was ordained in 2016 for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and travelled to Newark for the day. 

Fr. Edmond never thought he would become a priest. He had a wife, a chemical engineering degree, and a successful career. But after his wife died of cancer in 2011, he began to consider a new vocation. 

At his wife’s wake, a family friend wondered out loud that “maybe Ed will become a priest,” Fr. Edmond told CNA. That day, it seemed like a crazy suggestion, but Fr. Edmond now calls the encounter “extremely prophetic,” and said the remark planted an idea in his mind. 

Edmond did not grow up Catholic. He was baptized a Lutheran, and he told CNA that he went to religious services “about half a dozen times” until he was 20. He met his wife at a bar, and they began a long-distance relationship. 

While they dated, he became a Catholic and attended Mass with his future wife, Constance - everyone called her Connie. They married in 1982. 

After Connie died, Edmond, who along with his family participates in the Neocatechumenal Way, quit his job and embarked on what is called an “itinerancy,” a period of travelling missionary work organized by the Neocatechumenate. Edmond told CNA that, at least in the beginning, “priesthood was never anything in my mind.” 

During his time as a missionary, Edmond was assigned to help in a New Jersey parish, and also worked in prison ministry. While he lived as a missionary, he began to feel the pull of the priesthood. 

After helping lead a trip to the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, where he prayed for and continued to discern his vocation, Edmond called his catechist, telling him, “I think I have the call [to priesthood].” 

He was sent to a seminary affiliated with the Neocatechumenal Way in the Archdiocese of Agaña, Guam, and was eventually transferred to the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in the Archdiocese of Newark to complete his studies. 

Fr. Philip told CNA that after his mom died, he had sometimes wondered if his newly-widowed father would become a priest.

Father Edmund and to his son, Fr. Philip.

“I don't know if I ever said this--because I wanted to wait until it actually happened--but the first thought that crossed through my mind in the room there, when Mom died was that ‘my dad would become a priest,’” Philip said. 

“I can’t explain where it came from.” 

Philip said that he knew his father “couldn’t kind of just sit around and make money,” and that “I knew he had a mission.” 

Philip never told anyone about his thoughts, he said, instead choosing to place his trust in God. 

“I never said a single word about that thought. Because if it came from the Lord, it would bear fruit,” said Philip. 

During his transitional diaconate year, Edmond was assigned to serve at the same parish where he had spent time as a missionary. His first temporary assignment, which begins on July 1, will also be at the parish. 

“I arrived [at the parish] with no plans for the priesthood, and the cardinal and the other people had no idea of where they were going to assign me, but that is where they wound up sending me -- to the place where my vocation started,” he told CNA. 

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Fr. Edmond will not find out his permanent assignment until later in the summer. Normally, priestly assignments in the Archdiocese of Newark begin on July 1, but that will be delayed this year until September 1. 

The father and son priests told CNA that they are particularly grateful for the community of the Neocatechumenal Way, which Philip described as “the instrument that God used to save my family.”

The Ilgs were introduced to the Catholic program of spiritual renewal during a tumultuous time in their marriage, shortly after the loss of an infant son in childbirth. 

The father and son vocations “didn’t just happen sort of in an isolated setting,” Philip explained. “It happened because there was a community which nourished faith and allowed faith to grow.” 

“Throughout the years, I really have seen the faithfulness of God through the Neocatechumenal Way,” said Philip. Without the community’s support, Philip told CNA that he does not think neither he nor his father would be priests. 

“If it weren't for a community of faith, which nourished us in faith and formed the body in which it was able to handle us,” he said, they would not have had such a remarkable Father’s Day. 

Metuchen Catholic bishop: Racism an evil 'more dangerous' than coronavirus

Tue, 06/23/2020 - 21:01

CNA Staff, Jun 23, 2020 / 07:01 pm (CNA).- The Bishop of Metuchen led a prayer service for racial harmony and justice Friday, urging Catholics to focus on the eradication of racism.

Bishop James Checchio held the prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi June 19.

“Evil is real and even more dangerous than the coronavirus,” he said during his homily, challenging Catholics to pray and sacrifice for an end to racism, adding that “we need to address this national plague [of racism] with the same intensity we are using in our efforts to eradicate the COVID-19 virus.”

“As we continue to respond to the global pandemic of COVID-19 and its impact on our health and our economy, evil has shown itself anew to us as the sin and social disease of racism,” he said.

“During this already difficult time, confusion, mistrust, anger and anxiety have all helped to bring to light an extremely contagious and dangerous outbreak of hate.”

In addition to clerics, lay minister and members of the diocese’s African American, African, and Caribbean Apostolate participated in the service.

The Diocese of Metuchen is holding prayer services, called "Enduring Love: Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for racial harmony, peace, justice and healing in our nation”, across the diocese on Fridays this June

In addition to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the Litany of the Sacred Heart, Bishop Checchio also knelt and offered a prayer for George Floyd, who was killed May 25 in police custody. The bishop knelt for 8 minutes and 45 seconds - the amount of time that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin used a controversial knee-to-neck restraining method that led to Floyd’s death.

“The root of racism is never ‘someplace else’ but rather it lies within the human heart,” said Bishop Checchio. “We each can contribute to a civilization of love or of hate. Racial healing begins by a greater acceptance of our own humanity as a gift from the Father, and then, a recognition that every person is a child of the One Father.”

Bishop Checchio emphasized the dignity of all human persons, noting that every person is made in the image and likeness of God. He said racism contradicts the teaching of Christ and is an attack on humanity.

“My brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all equally made in the image and likeness of God. Racism occurs when this fundamental truth is ignored,” he said. “Racism is a sin that divides the human family.”

The bishop said that through sacraments, prayers, and daily sacrifices, God makes himself more present in the world and in each person. He said every time people live as true brothers and sisters in Christ the image of God is restored in our world.

“God uses us to make Himself present in our world by our simple yet genuine acts of love, and hence the world better reflects the image of God Himself as we renew the face of the earth, making it over in God’s own image,” he said.

“Yes, God provides us with all we need to strive to be perfect, like Him, and the hallmark of one’s friendship with Jesus – for all of us – is to absorb the life of Jesus so completely, that we want only to do what He wants to do through us.”