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ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
Updated: 2 hours 56 min ago

Cathedral High School in Indianapolis recognizes archbishop's oversight

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 19:12

Indianapolis, Ind., Jun 24, 2019 / 05:12 pm (CNA).- A Catholic high school in the Indianapolis archdiocese has said it will comply with the archbishop’s instructions to stop employing a teacher in a same-sex marriage.

The decision comes days after a Jesuit high school in the archdiocese refused to comply with a similar instruction and had its Catholic status stripped by Archbishop Charles Thompson.

“It is Archbishop Thompson’s responsibility to oversee faith and morals as related to Catholic identity within the Archdiocese of Indianapolis,” Cathedral High School leaders said in a June 23 letter. “Archbishop Thompson made it clear that Cathedral’s continued employment of a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage would result in our forfeiting our Catholic identity due to our employment of an individual living in contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage.”

“Therefore, in order to remain a Catholic Holy Cross School, Cathedral must follow the direct guidance given to us by Archbishop Thompson and separate from the teacher,” said the letter, signed by Matt Cohoat, chairman of Cathedral High School’s board of directors, and Rob Bridges, the school’s president.

There are about 1,000 students grades 9 to 12 at the high school. There are 68 schools recognized as Catholic by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

On June 20 the archdiocese announced that Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School will no longer be recognized as a Catholic school due to a disagreement about the employment of a teacher who attempted to contract a same-sex marriage.

“All those who minister in Catholic educational institutions carry out an important ministry in communicating the fullness of Catholic teaching to students both by word and action inside and outside the classroom,” the archdiocese said.

Every archdiocesan and Catholic private school has been instructed to clearly state that all such ministers “must convey and be supportive of all teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Teachers, the archdiocese said, are classified as ‘ministers’ because “it is their duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. To effectively bear witness to Christ, whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching.”

The June 20 statement noted that the archdiocese “recognizes all teachers, guidance counselors and administrators as ministers.” The 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision Hosanna Tabor v. EEOC established that religious institutions are free to require those it recognizes as ministers to uphold religious teachings as a condition of employment.

The letter from Cathedral High School leaders said the “agonizing decision” followed “22 months of earnest discussion and extensive dialogue” with the archdiocese about the high school’s Catholic identity.

The teacher concerned was not named in the letter.

“Please know that we offer our prayers and love to this teacher, our students and faculty, our archbishop, and all associated with Cathedral as we continue to educate our students in the Catholic Holy Cross tradition,” the school’s letter continued. “We ask that dialogue about this difficult situation be respectful of the dignity of every person and that you continue to pray for our Cathedral family and the wider Indianapolis community.”

The letter said that being Catholic can be “challenging” and the high school leaders voiced hope that the action does not dishearten parents, staff, and students.

The high school is affiliated with the Brothers of Holy Cross and its bylaws state that its Catholic identity is to be “at all times maintained” and that education in the faith is “a mission priority.”

“We are committed to educating our students in the tenets of the Catholic faith with an emphasis on the Holy Cross tradition,” said the school’s letter.

The letter voiced respect for the position of those at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School and said there are differences in the schools’ respective situations.

“Brebeuf is sponsored by the Jesuits while Cathedral is merely affiliated with the Brothers of Holy Cross. Because Brebeuf is a specific ministry of the Jesuits, their canonical and nonprofit status is different than ours. Therefore, the two schools cannot function the same way if Cathedral were to receive a similar decree as Brebeuf,” the school said.

School leaders at Brebeuf had said that despite the archdiocese’s decision “our identity as a Catholic Jesuit institution remains unchanged.” They said that to follow the instruction from the archdiocese “would not only violate our informed conscience on this particular matter, but also set a concerning precedent for future interference in the school’s operations and other governance matters that Brebeuf Jesuit leadership has historically had the sole right and privilege to address and decide.”

The archdiocese first made the request to Brebeuf two years before.

The Code of Canon Law recognizes the diocesan bishop’s responsibility to ensure that religion teachers are “outstanding in true doctrine, in the witness of their Christian life, and in their teaching ability.” The diocesan bishop has the right to approve religion teachers and, “if religious or moral considerations require it, the right to remove them or to demand that they be removed.”

Fr. Brian Paulson, S.J., head of the Jesuits’ Midwest Province, said he recognized the archbishop’s instruction to be “his prudential judgement of the application of canon law” regarding his responsibility for Catholic education and oversight of faith and morals in his archdiocese.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has previously addressed a similar issues at another school.

In August 2018, Shelley Fitzgerald, a guidance counselor at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, was placed on paid administrative leave. Fitzgerald, an employee of an archdiocesan school, had attempted to contract a same-sex marriage in 2014.

The Indianapolis high school cases drew significant comment from LGBT activists and the prominent Jesuit commentator Father James Martin, editor-at-large of America Magazine, who claimed that the action targets “LGBT people” and not “straight teachers.”

Morals clauses at Catholic schools have been a target of some activist groups, including the dissenting Catholic Equally Blessed Coalition. The coalition has received several low-six figure grants from the Arcus Foundation to back LGBT activists and to counter the Catholic Church.

One coalition member, New Ways Ministry, gave Martin its Bridge Building Award in 2016.

States move to close child marriage exceptions

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 16:00

Harrisburg, Pa., Jun 24, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- A growing number of states are considering bans or additional restrictions on child marriages, including in Pennsylvania, where a bill to outlaw child marriages passed the state’s House of Representatives earlier this month.  

“Children under the age of 18 cannot vote, serve in the military and buy alcohol or tobacco products, among other things,” Pennsylvania state Rep. Jesse Topper (R), one of the lead co-sponsors of the legislation, HB 360, stated upon its passage on June 5.

“Marriage is a life-altering decision and those who enter into it must be of a certain maturity that comes with age.” 

The legislation is expected to pass the Senate and to be signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf (D), NBC News reported.

Once the bill is enacted into law, Pennsylvania would become the third state, joining New Jersey and Delaware, to outlaw marriage licenses for any applicants under the age of 18; other states set age limits below 18 or allow for exceptions such as court approval.

There are currently 13 states without any age restrictions on marriage, though Maine’s state legislature recently passed a law restricting marriage licenses to applicants aged 16 or older and is due to come into force on Monday.

State Reps. Perry Warren (D) and Topper are the Pennsylvania bill’s lead co-sponsors.

Topper stated in a press release that child marriages—mostly between adult males and female minors—legalized relationships that would otherwise be considered cases of statutory rape. The bill would amend the state’s current law, which allows for marriage licenses for children younger than age 16 to be granted through court approval, and for children ages 16 to 18 with parental consent.

Warren said upon passage of the legislation that “this bill is about child protection,” and that “studies have shown that the child is often not in control of a decision to marry before 18, and a child under 18 does not have the legal rights of an adult.” 

The advocacy group Unchained at Last, which works to end forced marriages and child marriages in the U.S. and which supported the Pennsylvania legislation, says that around 248,000 children were married in the U.S. between the years 2000 and 2010.

That estimate was drawn from data gathered in 38 states which revealed more than 167,000 child marriages in the time frame, with estimated numbers from the remaining 12 states and Washington, D.C. “based on the strong correlation Unchained identified between population and child marriage.” 

Child spouses have a significantly high risk of abuse, due to their vulnerability, along with a higher risk of divorce, the group says.

According to a 2017 PBS FRONTLINE report, there were at least 207,459 reported child marriages in the U.S. with children as young as 12 being granted marriage licenses in several states.

The number of child marriages did fall significantly over the time period between 2000 and 2010, both PBS and Unchained at Last noted.

Catholic youth group involved in fatal Colorado bus crash

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 14:01

Pueblo, Colo., Jun 24, 2019 / 12:01 pm (CNA).- A charter bus carrying members of a Catholic group from New Mexico crashed Sunday in southern Colorado, killing at least two people including the driver and injuring more than a dozen others.

The group, high schoolers from Aquinas Newman Center at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, had been in Denver for the weekend attending Steubenville of the Rockies, an annual Catholic youth conference.

Among the dead is Jason Paul Marshall, a seminarian of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Marshall was studying theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.

The crash occurred on Interstate 25 around 2:30 pm June 23 about ten miles north of Pueblo. The bus struck part of a bridge structure and went off the highway into a ditch.

Colorado State Patrol reported that the driver was ejected from the bus and died. Thirteen other passengers sustained injuries ranging from minor to critical, CSP reported. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe later named the driver as 22-year-old Anthony Padilla.

A total of 14 ambulances and three medical helicopters were called to the scene to assist. Authorities said the driver may have had an “unspecified medical issue” that contributed to the crash, but the cause of the accident is still under investigation.

Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe will be celebrating a Mass of Healing June 26 at the Newman Center for the victims of the crash. A call from CNA to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe on Monday morning went unanswered as of press time.

Around 30 remaining members of the Newman Center group were able to attend Mass Sunday evening at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver. Father Robert Fisher offered prayers for the victims of the crash during Mass.

“Please pray tonight for a Catholic group from New Mexico who were involved in a tragic bus accident this afternoon in Pueblo,” the Archdiocese of Denver said on Facebook.

“The group had attended the Steubenville of the Rockies Youth Conference in Denver and was on its way home. We send our prayers and deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed, and our prayers for healing and comfort for those who were injured.”

US bishops oppose immigration raids, Trump defers

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 13:12

Washington D.C., Jun 24, 2019 / 11:12 am (CNA).- On Saturday US President Donald Trump announced he would delay immigration raids meant to begin that weekend, and the US bishops stated their opposition to the planned deportations.

“We recognize the right of nations to control their borders in a just and proportionate manner. However, broad enforcement actions instigate panic in our communities and will not serve as an effective deterrent to irregular migration,” Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin said June 22.

“Instead, we should focus on the root causes in Central America that have compelled so many to leave their homes in search of safety and reform our immigration system with a view toward justice and the common good,” said the bishop, who chairs the US bishops' migration committee.

He added: “We stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress to achieve those objectives.”

Trump had announced upcoming immigration raids June 17, but on Saturday said he would delay the action two weeks, to allow Congress to modify US asylum law.

The Trump administration is eager to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the US.

Earlier this month, Mexico agreed to take measures to reduce the number of migrants to the US, in order to avoid the imposition of tariffs.

Some 6,000 National Guard troops will be assigned to Mexico's southern border with Guatemala, and some asylum seekers in the US will be sent to Mexico to wait while their claims are processed.

In the US, the House passed a bill June 4 that would provide a citizenship path for some brought to the US illegally as children, as well as for qualified holders of Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure.

Bishop Vásquez commented that “Dreamers, TPS and DED holders are working to make our communities and parishes strong and are vital contributors to our country. We welcome today’s vote and urge the Senate to take up this legislation which gives permanent protection to Dreamers, TPS and DED holders.”

The bill, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, would grant qualifying childhood arrivals 10 years of legal residence, after which they could receive permanent legal residence with two years of higher education or military service, or three years of employment. Those with TPS or DED could apply for lawful permanent residence if they have been in the country for at least three years and have passed background checks. After five years of lawful permanent residence, they would apply for citizenship.

In May, Bishop Vásquez and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston, president of the US bishops' conference, voiced concern over a separate immigration plan from the Trump administration which prioritizes immigration status based on merit rather than family ties.

“We oppose proposals that seek to curtail family-based immigration and create a largely ‘merit-based’ immigration system,” they said. “Families are the foundation of our faith, our society, our history, and our immigration system.”

How the Church can better respond to the problem of domestic violence

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 18:12

Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2019 / 04:12 pm (CNA).- This Sunday, in Catholic parishes across the country, one in four women sitting in the pews will have experienced severe physical violence in their own homes from their spouses or partners - including burns, choking, beating, or the use of a weapon against them. One in nine men will have experienced the same.

According to one priest who is an expert in the subject, priests in the U.S. are still not doing enough to address the issue.

“The Church has been complicit in this because we haven’t talked about it enough,” said Fr. Charles Dahm, a priest of the Chicago Archdiocese who leads its domestic violence outreach program.

Dahm was a priest at a large parish with a majority-Hispanic population near downtown Chicago for 21 years. During his time there, after hiring a counselor on his staff, he learned that many of his parishioners were victims of domestic abuse, he told CNA. He asked his counselor to train him in recognizing and responding to abuse, and he started to talk about domestic violence in his homilies.

“And the more I spoke about it, the more victims came to me,” he said. Word of Dahm’s parish ministry spread, as parishioners referred their relatives, neighbors and friends. Around the year 2000, the parish office was receiving an average of one victim of domestic violence every day, he said.

Today, he coordinates the Church’s response to domestic abuse at the Archdiocese of Chicago, educating and training priests and other Church leaders on how to prevent and respond to instances of domestic abuse. He travels to give homilies and workshops on the topic, and while he’s been to many parishes throughout his own archdiocese, Dahm said it has been difficult to get other dioceses to respond to his offers of help.

The clergy of the U.S., including the bishops, are largely ignorant about the existence of domestic violence, Dahm said.

“The studies show it’s rampant in the United States. Every pastor who stands up on Sunday looking out on his congregation - he is facing dozens if not scores of victims in his congregation in front of him, and he does not know how to speak to them.”

The ignorance surrounding domestic abuse has a variety of causes, Dahm noted. Priests have not been educated on domestic violence in the seminary, and so they do not expect to encounter it in the priesthood. If a priest does not talk about domestic violence, victims may not approach him about it, and he can therefore have a false sense that it does not exist in his parish. Priests are also overstretched and overworked, and can be weary about taking on new ministries, he added.

“It’s a real travesty that...the clergy is resistant to this topic,” he said.

Misunderstanding abuse as a Catholic

There can also be misunderstandings among Catholics - lay people and clergy alike - about the prevalence of domestic violence and how to respond to it within the context of a Christian marriage.

For example, Dahm said, it is a mistake to think that because couples are religious and going to church, they are less likely to experience or perpetrate abuse.

A 2019 study from the Institute for Family Studies and the Wheatley Institution of Brigham Young University found that while religion offers many benefits to couples, it unfortunately does not positively impact their rates of domestic violence.

“When it comes to domestic violence, religious couples in heterosexual relationships do not have an advantage over secular couples or less/mixed religious couples. Measures of intimate partner violence (IPV)—which includes physical abuse, as well as sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and controlling behaviors—do not differ in a statistically significant way by religiosity,” the study noted.

Other misunderstandings about how to respond to domestic violence come from an incomplete understanding of the Catholic teaching about the permanence of marriage, or the role of suffering in the life of a Christian.

Sharon O’Brien is the director of Catholics For Family Peace, an education and research initiative that is part of the National Catholic School of Social Service’s Consortium for Catholic Social Teaching at the Catholic University of America.

O’Brien told CNA that while marriage is meant to be a sacrament that lasts until the end of a person’s or their partner’s life, domestic violence can be a valid justification for a Catholic to seek at least physical separation from their spouse.

“Catholics I think are challenged to understand that abuse in a marriage is unacceptable,” O’Brien said. “But it’s sinful and it’s usually criminal.”

Greg Pope is the assistant general secretary for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, which recently held their annual Day for Life, a day set aside for raising awareness of various pro-life issues. This year, they chose domestic violence as the theme of the day.

Pope told CNA that domestic violence “fundamentally undermines the Church’s teaching on the inherent dignity of the human person and the complementarity of couples within a marriage.”

He said that Catholic couples experiencing domestic abuse should know that Canon Law, the governing law of the Church, addresses domestic violence, and states: “If either of the spouses causes grave mental or physical danger to the other spouse or to the offspring or otherwise renders common life too difficult, that spouse gives the other a legitimate cause for leaving, either by decree of the local ordinary or even on his or her own authority if there is danger in delay.” (Can. 1153 §1.)

“The Church does not force anyone to remain in an abusive relationship,” Pope reiterated.

Furthermore, O’Brien said, Catholics can have a misunderstanding of the role of suffering in their lives, and some may think that the suffering they experience through domestic violence may be God’s way of “punishing” them for some other sin.

“Yes, suffering exists and yes, we can offer it to the Lord, but we’re not to seek suffering,” O’Brien said, and Catholics should not tolerate abuse in the name of suffering.

“The other big deal with Catholics is understanding that this is not punishment,” she added.

“Yes, maybe you had an abortion, or yes, maybe you all were engaged in relations before marriage...but experiencing domestic abuse is not punishment for some other sin, and you are called to address it, to figure out what to do,” she said.

How the Church responds to domestic abuse

In 1992, the Catholic bishops of the U.S. wrote “When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women.”

In the document, the bishops clearly state Catholic Church teaching regarding domestic abuse. They also examine why abuse happens, how one can respond to it, and information on where and how abused women and men can seek help.

The document “was cutting edge in 1992 and is still incredibly relevant and appropriate,” said Fr. Dahm. It has since been updated, but only in very minor ways.

“As pastors of the Catholic Church in the United States, we state as clearly and strongly as we can that violence against women, inside or outside the home, is never justified. Violence in any form —physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal —is sinful; often, it is a crime as well. We have called for a moral revolution to replace a culture of violence. We acknowledge that violence has many forms, many causes, and many victims—men as well as women,” the bishops stated in the document’s introduction.

But while the document is excellent, it is still a “really well-kept secret” of the Church, Dahm said, in that many priests and Church leaders do not know that it exists. He said part of his work over the years has been to bring this document to the attention of priests and seminarians during his workshops on domestic violence.

Catholics for Family Peace is another key part of the Church’s response in the United States.

“All the major religions have a national office where clergy and leaders can be trained on domestic abuse, and so we’re it for Catholics,” O’Brien noted.

“We work with dioceses to implement the 20 strategies in the (bishop’s) statement and to create a coordinated, compassionate response to domestic abuse,” she said. They also host several awareness-raising events during the month of October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Lauri Przybysz, co-founder of Catholics For Family Peace, told CNA that their mission extends beyond education and training for clergy and leaders to “education for engaged couples as they prepare for marriage, for them to understand what a healthy relationship means for their marriage, and just facts about domestic violence that a lot of people aren't aware of.”

“We actually have an education module that we can share with marriage preparation leaders... [that] has a little questionnaire that a couple can take to say, to identify: ‘Is there something in my relationship that could be better?’” she said.

They also educate teens on healthy dating and relationships, and they compile good secular resources that clergy can use too, because many of them do not have anything in them contrary to the Catholic faith, Przybysz said.

O’Brien also said that the archdioceses of both Chicago and Washington, D.C., have modeled some of the best responses to domestic violence.

Laura Yeomans is the program manager for the Parish Partners Program at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. The website for the program includes a homily on domestic violence, a downloadable packet for pastors responding to domestic violence, definitions and explanations of domestic violence and Church teaching, as well as links to emergency resources for victims, among other things.

Yeomans and her team connect with priests and families at the parish level when they are notified about cases of domestic abuse, she said.

“We go out to the parish setting and we meet individually with families who are suffering domestic abuse,” Yeomans said.

Basic do’s and don’ts of responding to domestic violence

While a natural response for pastors or Catholics who learn about a case of domestic abuse may be to call the police, Przybysz warned against it. If a perpetrator knows they have been found out, their violence could escalate to the point of killing their victim.

“It's about walking beside someone, giving them information about where they can find safety, when they decide to make the move,” she said.

Yeomans seconded this advice. “When you're talking with family suffering, domestic abuse, it's very important that we not go in with an agenda,” she said.

The first thing to do is listen, Yeomans said, and to say: “I believe you.” Next, she said, ask: “What can I do? How can I help you? What step would you like to take?”

“It's very important not to say, ‘You should forgive him,’” she said, because this gives the victim the false impression that they must continue enduring the abuse in the meantime. Forgiveness may come eventually, Yeomans said, but the first priority is the safety of the victim.

“Forgiveness is not permitting the abuse to continue,” she said. “It is not allowing yourself and your children to be in danger.”

Spreading awareness of domestic violence, and of the resources available, is one of the best things priests can do for their parishioners, Fr. Dahm said, because then they will know where to turn for help. He said he found it especially true among Hispanics and Latinos, especially those who had recently come to the United States and prefer going to the Church for help.

“It is absolutely true that Hispanics prefer to go to their parish,” he said. “They feel more welcome, they feel safer, that was why in our parish we were so successful - people came to us from all over. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that people wanted to go to a place they trusted.”

Yeomans said that besides speaking about domestic violence at Mass, priests should find out what resources are available to them locally. Once they know what domestic violence hotlines and resources are available, they can print flyers with information and hang them in parish bathrooms, and put informative inserts in their parish bulletins.

Another thing that Yeomans has seen priests do is to raise the question about domestic violence and healthy relationships during times like baptism class, when couples are already at Church to receive some education and information.

Pope said that in the UK, the bishops’ goals for having domestic violence as the theme for their Day for Life was to raise awareness of the issue, to raise additional funds for resources, and to make domestic violence culturally unacceptable.

Fr. Dahm added that he is willing to travel throughout the United States to preach and give workshops on domestic violence in parishes.

“If there are bishops in dioceses who are interested, just tell me, and I will go there,” he said.

By focusing on domestic violence, among other issues, as important pro-life issues, Pope said the bishops hope to help their people follow God’s call in the Gospel of John more closely: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic violence, call the national domestic violence hotline at: 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 (TTY). For more information, go to www.thehotline.org.

Domestic violence resources through the Archdiocese of Chicago are available at: https://pvm.archchicago.org/human-dignity-solidarity/domestic-violence-outreach

Domestic violence resources, including the pastoral response packet, are available through Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. at: https://www.catholiccharitiesdc.org/familypeace/

Catholics can also visit Catholics for Family Peace or For Your Marriage for additional information.

Three priests sue Corpus Christi diocese for inclusion in credibly accused list

Sat, 06/22/2019 - 10:01

Corpus Christi, Texas, Jun 22, 2019 / 08:01 am (CNA).- Three priests have filed suits against the Diocese of Corpus Christi and its bishop, claiming that they were wrongfully included in a list of clerics credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor within the diocese.

The Corpus Christi Caller Times reported June 20 that Fr. Jesús García Hernando had filed a suit over his inclusion on the list. In March, both Msgr. Michael Heras and Fr. John Feminelli filed similar suits.

The suits state that “Defendants knew the statement was false and acted with reckless disregard for the truth. The publication of the statement was made with malice.”

All three are being represented by Andrew Greenwell of Harris & Greenwell, who told the Caller Times that a fourth suit may be filed as well.

The diocese had earlier filed motions to dismiss the suits from Heras and Feminelli, saying the list was “made in good faith.”

The Corpus Christi diocese released a list of credibly accused clerics Jan. 31, amid a wave of such admissions throughout the US following a Pennsylvania grand jury report on abuse by clerics in six of the state's dioceses.

Announcing the list, Bishop Michael Mulvey of Corpus Christi said that “an Independent Committee comprised of outside legal professionals reviewed all cleric files to determine whether an allegation was credible,” and that “in some cases, files were also reviewed by the Diocesan Review Board.”

The diocese “accepted all recommendations from the Independent Committee and the Diocesan Review Board regarding the names to be included on this list,” he stated.

The bishop added that the diocese “has worked diligently to be accurate with the information presented,” and said that “if any information is found to be incorrect” the diocese's victim assistance coordinator should be contacted.

His statement included a nota bene that “A determination that an allegation against a member of the clergy is credible is not equivalent to a finding by a judge or jury that the cleric is liable or guilty of the sexual abuse of a minor under canon, civil or criminal law.

On the list were 26 clerics, 12 of whom are deceased.

According to the list, Fr. Hernando was incardinated into the Corpus Christi diocese in 1983, and was ordained the following year in Burgos. He was excardinated from the diocese in 2000, and was removed from ministry in 2011.

Greenwell told the Caller Times that Hernando is still a priest in Spain.

The Caller Times said that Hernando was indicted in 1996 on charges of sexual assault and indecency with a child related to an alleged 1992 incident with a 15-year-old altar boy. Hernando returned to the US from Spain after the indictment. He was not convicted, and the criminal case was dismissed; the prosecutor indicated he needed more evidence than the accuser's testimony.

He has also been accused in a suit “of molesting at least two other men from 1991 to 1994.”

According to the diocese's list, Fr. Feminelli was ordained for the diocese in 1987, and retired in 2007. The Caller Times said in February that a couple filed a suit against the diocese in 1988, “claiming diocese employees circulated false information about their 15-year-old son.” Feminelli was accused of buying the boy gifts in exchange for “wrestling matches” in a hotel room.

The Caller Times wrote that “the suit alleged slander and libel,” saying the bishop and priests “humiliated the family, causing the boy to recant … No wrestling matches took place, the boy said in court.”

Msgr. Heras was ordained for the diocese in 1984, and was removed from ministry in 2014.

That year, district attorneys received complaints of inappropriate conduct which was alleged to have happened 25-30 years earlier. Criminal investigations were not pursued, but a civil suit was filed in October 2018.

A diocesan directory of priests which indicated it was last updated Oct. 30, 2018, listed Feminelli as retired. Heras' status was not indicated.

Drone strikes and proportionality: What is 'just war?'

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 20:00

Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2019 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- On Thursday night, President Donald Trump confirmed that he had ordered a military strike against Iran, and then called it off, after a U.S. military drone was shot down by Iran earlier in the week.

Trump said he cancelled the military strike because the expected 150 Iranian casualties were not “proportional” to the destruction of a U.S. drone.

“Ten minutes before the strike I stopped it, [it was] not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone," Trump said.

The concept of proportionality in military conflict is rooted in what is often called the “just war theory,” most famously expounded by St. Thomas Aquinas.

Modern conflicts, which often involve missile and air strikes rather than pitched battles between troops, present a more complicated concept of war than in previous centuries but, theologians told CNA, just war theory remains applicable to modern warfare.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church does a nice job of summarizing the criteria for entering into the use of military force for self-defense,” Miller told CNA, “though I tend to think of just war as more of a ‘doctrine’ than a ‘theory’ in the Church.”

Miller said the Church’s moral criteria are divided into two categories – the ius ad bellum and the ius in bellum, covering the criteria for resorting to war and how it is to be conducted once begun.

“Regarding proportionality, the Catechism says that ‘the use of arms must not produce evils or disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.’ That would be the criterion that [President] Trump seems to be alluding to in saying what he did.”

While the prospect of air strikes causing casualties in response to shooting down an unmanned drone presents a clear case for weighing the proportionality of any response, Miller said, there can be some broader confusion about what proportionality means.

“It does not necessarily mean you cannot take the lives of more enemy combatants than have been lost on your side, that would be almost to say there was an obligation to lose the war. Nor does it necessarily mean that you cannot prosecute a war of self-defense in response to an initial strike – take for example the attack on Pearl Harbor, which was not necessarily intended to precede an invasion of the United States but nevertheless triggered a just response of war with Japan.”

Considering the specific example offered by Trump’s comments, Miller said that, at least based on what has been reported, the reasoning was less straightforward.

“If you think about the act of shooting down a drone – is that intended to be the beginning of a military action leading to further deadly damage to either American or allied personnel or interests? It might be clear that such an act was intended as a provocation, but not necessarily to war.”

Dr. Taylor Patrick O’Neill, assistant professor of theology at Mount Mercy University, told CNA that the ongoing nature of a threat was an important part of invoking a just military response.

“The first criterion for the use of military force is, of course, a just cause,” O’Neill told CNA.

“I think that in response to an act which has not yet caused any casualties, which is not part of an ongoing pattern of military aggression with lives at stake, there is a real question here about the just cause and the proportionality of engaging in a response which would certainly take lives – maybe many lives and even civilian ones at that.”

Miller agreed that responding with deadly force to a non-deadly provocation requires serious scrutiny.

“If it really is the case that the response to, say, the shooting down of an unmanned drone, is only intended to take out the infrastructure which made that possible and to prevent it happening again, it is all the more clear that proportionality really does come to bear when you are looking at taking human life – especially if those lives might include civilians. It becomes very problematic,” Miller said.

Modern conflicts often involve remote means of warfare and targets which are of unclear military status, such as governmental intelligence posts, radar stations, or other logistical installations.  While the personnel in them might be primarily military, the presence of civilians has to weighed carefully in discerning military action.

“The classification of people involved can be very difficult to discern in modern conflicts,” O’Neill said.

“We don’t necessarily see artillery shelling enemy lines. With strikes from distance on military targets, there are people involved who might not be military personnel: they might be government intelligence workers or people in a grey area, but then there’s the possibility of just the civilian janitor in the building, how do you put them in the balance of proportionality? It makes things very difficult.”

O’Neill said that with modern means of warfare, there is a very high burden on governments to take all measures possible to limit the loss of potentially innocent human life.

“To have the moral justification and to make some calculus of proportionality, you have to have some good intelligence about who could be harmed – obviously there can be unintended consequences but you have to have a good amount of information about what the effects of a military action could be before you can judge if it is a just response.”

Miller emphasized the same point, telling CNA that even in response to the deaths of soldiers, any military response has to involve a difficult prudential judgment about the risk to civilian life.

“If lives are being lost and there is, say, an installation which is helping make that happen, a responsive attack there could be justified and proportionality satisfied, but only as long as everything that reasonably can be done to limit civilian casualties is done,” said Miller.

“Of course, so much of this is about thinking five or ten steps down the road, and it is about balancing the need to prevent an escalation while keeping an eye on all the possible unforeseen consequences,” O’Neill said.

“Whenever an action could have a double effect, proportionality becomes important,” Miller agreed.

“In war especially, but in moral thinking more broadly, where there is that risk, there is a prudential judgment to be made. Each situation needs to be assessed on its own merits and it is not always perfectly quantifiable, even almost a case of ‘you know it when you see it.’ There is no algorithm or mathematical formula for this.”

Wis. Catholic Conference dismayed by veto of abortion bills

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 19:01

Madison, Wis., Jun 21, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- As the Democratic Governor of Wisconsin vetoed Friday four bills regulating abortion, Catholics in the state expressed disappointment with the decision.

The Republican-controlled state legislature sent Gov. Tony Evers four bills June 20. They would have imposed criminal penalties on doctors who do not provide medical attention to babies born after a failed abortion; bar Medicaid funding from going to Planned Parenthood; prohibit abortions based on the baby’s sex, race, or defects; and require abortion providers to inform patients that a medical abortion may be reversed after the first dose of mifepristone.

"Everyone should have access to quality, affordable healthcare, and that includes reproductive healthcare,” Evers said June 21.

Regarding his veto of Assembly Bill 182, which would have prohibited sex, race, and disability-based abortions, Evers stated: "I object to the political interference between patients and their healthcare providers ... The provisions of this bill perpetuate harmful stereotypes and put women at risk by making reproductive healthcare less accessible."

Kim Vercauteren, executive director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, told CNA the conference was let down by the governor’s declaration. She said the bills signified the dignity of all women.

“In the terms of the ... governor's veto of these bills, obviously, we are disappointed and dismayed by that,” she said.

Vercauteren said the bills would protect all women, whether unborn or pregnant.

“These bills do an amazing job of trying to help women that truly respects them, whether they're inside the womb or elsewhere,” said Vercauteren. “It shows that the bills are devoted to prevention diagnosis and care and not the termination of life.”

“It just aligns with our Catholic teaching. Our march for justice for the unborn and newly born children … is the just the recognition of everyone’s full humanity. We have an obligation to protect and promote that. We would hope the government would do the same,” said Vercauteren.

Supporters of the bills do not have enough votes to override Evers' vetos.

In a June 21 tweet, Wisconsin’s Planned Parenthood expressed support for the governor's decision, claiming the bills were based on inaccurate facts.

Evers “vetos a package of anti-women's health bills aimed at misinforming the public about abortion care. These bills and their supporters are making claims that are inflammatory, offensive and blatantly false,” read the tweet.

The ‘dire’ border crisis continues as federal funds run out fast

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 18:00

Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- Amid of a surge of migrants, many of them minors, seeking to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, federal officials have called for emergency funding to address a growing humanitarian crisis. While reports differ, budget constraints have led to cuts to legal aid and educational programs for detained migrant youths.

“We continue to experience a humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border of the United States, and the situation becomes more dire each day,” Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Human Services, and Kevin McAleenan, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said in a June 12 letter to Members of Congress.

Massive numbers of migrants, often fleeing gang violence and extreme poverty in Central America, are seeking to cross the U.S. border. In May an average of 4,650 people per day crossed into the U.S. or arrived at ports of entry without proper documentation, said Azar and McAleenan in their letter.

There were over 144,000 total enforcement actions on the border, a 32 percent increase over April and the highest monthly total in more than 15 years.

“We urge Congress to take swift action to provide the necessary funding to address the severe humanitarian and operational impacts of this crisis and enact reforms to the root causes of these problems so that they do not persist into the future,” the Trump administration leaders said in their letter.

They warned of “rapidly depleting funds caused by the border surge.” Third-quarter funding is already being withheld in almost all U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Budgetary constraints mean the HHS has started to defund education services, legal services, and recreation for unaccompanied minors in federal migrant shelters on the ground such activities are “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety.”

Safety of children in federal care is “the primary concern” of both HHS and DHS, Azar and McAleenan said in their letter. As of June 10, over 2,500 unaccompanied children were among the 17,000 people in Customs and Border Protection custody. On May 1 they numbered only about 870. The number of arriving children “greatly exceeds existing HHS capacity.”

Catholic leaders are also concerned about the funding shortfall.

Kathryn Kuennen, associate director of children’s services at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Children and Migration Office, told CNA that the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services serves about 2,000 unaccompanied children per year, though programs could serve more children in coming months. These services work through a national network of licensed unaccompanied refugee minor foster care programs until children in its care are approved for release and reunification with a vetted sponsor in the U.S.

At present these Catholic-run services have not been mandated to cut their budgets.

“We are working within the funding and resources available to cover those expenses,” said Kuennen. “We certainly would be concerned if there is not supplemental funding available.”

Catholic migrant services leaders are confident that their educational programs can continue to cover costs “for a short time,” but they are concerned over long-term funding.

“We are at risk of placing programs in jeopardy with their own state licensing requirements for the children in their care,” Kuennen said June 20.

Melissa Velarde Hastings, a policy advisor to the U.S. bishops, said that the USCCB and its Migrant and Refugee Services have been advocating for Congress to appropriate $2.88 billion for HHS supplemental funding that would ensure funding through the rest of the fiscal year and to provide adequate care for children.

The appropriations process is an important way to ensure better treatment for minors in federal custody or care, especially given concerns about some large-scale facilities which detain undocumented border crossers.

“From our perspective we see these facilities as being an important tool to have available in times when the referral numbers are quite high and it needs the additional capacity,” Hastings told CNA. “However, we are advocating for increased oversight and heightened standards for those facilities.”

She encouraged those concerned to visit the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants website at justiceforimmigrants.org.

Kuennen saw a need to ensure adequate bed capacity for children and more child-friendly options for migrants.

“There’s absolutely a need to continue to increase available foster home placements or smaller-scale placements for children so that there are alternatives to some of the large-scale facilities that we see and hear about often,” she told CNA. “We continue to support the work in building up a network that is more safe and appropriate for children.”

Earlier this month the Washington Post reported that HHS funding cuts could violate a federal court settlement and state licensing agreements that require education and recreation for minors in federal custody.

One shelter employee, speaking to the Washington Post on condition of anonymity, said the cuts have worried workers who think the care for children will suffer. The educational classes and sports are crucial for the children’s physical and mental health, the employee said.

Unless criteria are met, the Anti-Deficiency Act requires HHS to reallocate up to $167 million to the unaccompanied children program and away from Refugee Support Services, trafficking victims and survivors of torture.

Almost 85,000 people who were part of a “family unit” were apprehended on the Southwest border, with another 4,100 deemed inadmissible. at the border’s ports of entry. The “vast majority” of those apprehended were released into the U.S. “due to a lack of space and authority to detain them,” said Azar and McAleenan’s letter.

In all of fiscal year 2012, the border patrol apprehended just over 11,000 people who were part of a family unit.

Border patrol agents now spend most of their time caring for families and children, providing medical assistance, transportation, and food service “instead of performing law enforcement duties.”

Azar and McAleenan’s letter to Congress cited flu outbreaks at the Centralized Processing Center in McAllen, Texas and other facilities. These outbreaks require separate quarantine facilities to reduce the risk to children and other vulnerable people.

“While agents are providing the best care possible, these groups need more appropriate care, and they need it now,” they said.

Cuts to legal services have also drawn criticism. Such services are necessary for many unaccompanied minors to contest possible deportation.

“We are deeply troubled that these services are being cut for children, who are among the most vulnerable population of immigrants in detention,” Kica Matos, director of the Center on Immigration and Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice, told the Washington Post. Matos’ center manages legal aid programs for the U.S. government.

For decades the U.S. bishops have been active on immigration issues, and recent developments were a focus of their annual spring meeting in Baltimore.

Bishops like Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said there were serious challenges facing the Church’s mission to migrants and refugees, criticizing the “inhumane” and “immoral” treatment of migrants, asylum-seekers, and others seeking to enter the U.S.

The bishops cited the Trump administration’s lowering of refugee intake caps for a third straight year to 30,000 for FY 2019, as well as the ending of the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program in 2017, and the ongoing non-renewal of Temporary Protected Status designations.

Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, Texas said U.S. policy puts “vulnerable people in harm’s way” by forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their request is processed. He also criticized increases in family detention, rules “to further restrict access to asylum and due process,” and an “enforcement-only approach to migration.”

Religious ministry to detained migrants is also a concern.

With thousands of undocumented immigrants in detention centers throughout the country, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami said last week, “we as pastors should be concerned that we have our priests there celebrating Mass for them, that the Church is present to them in this area.”

“We have to respond to them and not let the Church be invisible to them,” said Wenski.
 

 

In final decision, Missouri health department denies license to Planned Parenthood

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 12:50

St. Louis, Mo., Jun 21, 2019 / 10:50 am (CNA).- Missouri’s health department on Friday rejected a license renewal request from a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state.

Pro-life groups had been calling for the clinic’s closure.

“This particular facility’s track record shows an appalling pattern of botched abortions and other violations that prove they are incapable of policing themselves,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said May 31. “Planned Parenthood does not deserve special treatment and the health and safety of women should never come second to the abortion industry’s bottom line.”

Planned Parenthood had filed a lawsuit after state health officials initially said the clinic failed to meet safety standards and would not be receiving a license renewal.

The health department cited a failure to cooperate with state regulations, as well as four botched abortions, one in which the mother developed sepsis and another in which the patient was hospitalized with life threatening complications.

Gov. Mike Parson explained May 31 that “We are committed to and take seriously our duty to ensure that all health facilities in Missouri follow the law, abide by regulations, and protect the safety of patients.”

Planned Parenthood objected and accused the state of enforcing regulations arbitrarily for political reasons, National Public Radio reported. The organization contends there is no valid reason for state rules mandating two pelvic exams before the administration of drugs that induce abortions. It has also rejected state demands that officials interview its medical trainees on staff.

State circuit court judge Michael Stelzer had granted a preliminary injunction, allowing the clinic to continue operating past the end of the day on May 31, when its license was set to expire. He ruled that the clinic would face “immediate and irreparable injury” if its license lapsed and said the clinic could stay open while its case was being decided in court.

Missouri’s Department of Health was given until June 21 to make a final ruling on whether it would renew the license.

Stelzer said after the decision that the clinic may remain open until further order from the court, CNN reported.

If the St. Louis Planned Parenthood were to close, Missouri would become the only state without an abortion clinic. Five other states currently have only one facility that performs abortions, according to CBS News.

While the St. Louis Planned Parenthood is the last abortion clinic in Missouri, there is a private surgical abortion facility near St. Louis, across the Mississippi River in Granite City, Ill. A Planned Parenthood clinic 20 miles away in Belleville, Ill. offers medication-induced abortion, the New York Times reports.

In a separate case, on Friday, June 14, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge David Dowd ruled that Missouri’s legislature cannot cut funding from the Planned Parenthood clinic, after the clinic argued that it not only provided abortions, but other health care services, according to a local Fox News affiliate. Missouri Governor Mike Parson said the decision will be appealed.

Parson also recently signed a bill that punishes abortion doctors who perform abortions on a woman who is past eight weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for medical emergencies which seriously threaten the life or quality of life of the mother. The law does not penalize women who obtain abortions.

Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis called the eight-week abortion ban “a giant step forward for the pro-life movement.”

The year 2019 has witnessed significant controversy at the state level over abortion regulations. Changes in the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court have prompted speculation that the court could dramatically alter or overturn Roe v. Wade and other major precedents mandating legal abortion nationwide.

Missouri is one of at least a dozen states that have enacted abortion restrictions so far this year, with others still considering similar legislation. Other states have passed expansive laws preserving and expanding access to abortion regardless of future Supreme Court decisions.

 

 

Planned Parenthood to lose $60 million after Title X ruling

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 09:30

San Francisco, Calif., Jun 21, 2019 / 07:30 am (CNA).- The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that new Title X rules, that prohibit funds from going to clinics that perform abortions or provide abortion referrals, can go into effect.

The June 20 decision, issued from the bench in San Francisco, means that Planned Parenthood will stand to lose about $60 million in federal funding, though the abortion provider will continue to receive close to half a billion dollars in federal funding from other programs.

In late February, the Trump Administration finalized the “Protect Life Rule,” which added new eligibility requirements for Title X fund recipients. Shortly thereafter, several states sued over the new policy, and California, Washington, and Oregon received a preliminary injunction that blocked the rule from going into effect. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that earlier decision on Thursday, calling the administration rules a "reasonable" interpretation of federal law.

The court ruled that allowing the injuction to stand would mean “HHS will be forced to allow taxpayer dollars to be spent in a manner that it has concluded violates the law, as well as the government’s important policy interest…in ensuring that taxpayer dollars do not go to fund or subsidize abortions.”

The three judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals who ruled on this case were all appointed by Republican presidents.  

Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families.

Among other provisions, the Protect Life Rule requires that there be a physical and financial separation between recipients of Title X funds and facilities that perform abortions. Clinics that provide “nondirective counseling” about abortion can still receive funds.  

Previous regulations, written during the presidency of Bill Clinton, allowed for health clinics that were co-located with abortion clinics to receive funds, and required that Title X recipients refer patients for abortions.

As a result of Thursday’s ruling, Title X fund recipients are immediately prevented from referring patients for abortion services. By March 2020, health clinics must be located seperatly from abortion facilities in order to be elligable for Title X funding.

Dr. Leana Wen, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, promised to appeal the court’s decision.

Bishops mark World Refugee Day amid 'biggest migratory crisis since WWII'

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 17:35

Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2019 / 03:35 pm (CNA).- Today, on World Refugee Day, the world marks the highest number of forcibly displaced people in nearly 70 years. In their statement marking the day, the U.S. bishops said “the world is embroiled in the biggest migratory crisis since World War II with more than 25 million refugees around the world.”

A new report from the United Nations refugee agency found that more than 70 million people were displaced from their homes worldwide in the year 2018.

The UN counts in this number anyone who was displaced from their home “as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations” at the end of 2018. The numbers included 13.6 million people who were newly displaced this year, which amounts to about 37,000 people who are displaced from their homes every day, the report notes. The other 67 million had been displaced in other years, and are still living as displaced persons.

“We have seen the images of the refugee crisis, and World Refugee Day calls attention to the critical need to assist our refugee brothers and sisters and make them feel a sense of welcome,”  Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, said in a statement.

“It is imperative for us to highlight the contributions refugees make in our communities,” he added.

Refugees are people displaced from their homes who are living in a different country, after an application process. Asylum seekers are those who are still seeking official placement in another country. Of the 70 million displaced people in 2018, about 25 million were refugees, while 2.5 million were asylum seekers. More than half - about 41 million - were internally displaced within their own countries.

The report found that a majority of the world’s refugees were escaping violent conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, or Somalia. Four in five refugees now live in a country bordering their former home.

Since the year 2000, the world has marked the celebration of World Refugee Day, created by the United Nations to raise awareness about the plight of refugees around the world.

In their statement, the bishops noted that in the United States, “the Presidential Determination for refugee resettlement was set at an all-time low of 30,000 refugees for the current fiscal year. This comes only one year after half of the 45,000 refugees set forth by the Administration’s determination were resettled in the United States.”

According to the UN report, 16% of refugees are hosted by developed nations, while another one-third of them were hosted by “Least Developed Countries.”

In their statement, the bishops noted that a representative of the U.S. bishop’s Migration and Refugee Services, as well as a member of Catholic Charities USA, would be part of a briefing before Congress on Thursday about the root causes of forced displacement, and the impact of refugee resettlement in the U.S.

The Catholic Church has a long history of helping resettle refugees in the United States, having helped nearly one-third of all refugees received by the United States since 1980.

Indianapolis archbishop revokes Jesuit prep school's Catholic identity

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 15:49

Indianapolis, Ind., Jun 20, 2019 / 01:49 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Indianapolis announced Thursday that a local Jesuit high school will no longer be recognized as a Catholic school, due to a disagreement about the employment of a teacher who attempted to contract a same-sex marriage.

“All those who minister in Catholic educational institutions carry out an important ministry in communicating the fullness of Catholic teaching to students both by word and action inside and outside the classroom,” the archdiocese said in a statement Thursday.

“In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, every archdiocesan Catholic school and private Catholic school has been instructed to clearly state in its contracts and ministerial job descriptions that all ministers must convey and be supportive of all teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Teachers, the archdiocese said, are classified as ‘ministers’ because “it is their duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. To effectively bear witness to Christ, whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching.”

“Regrettably, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School has freely chosen not to enter into such agreements that protect the important ministry of communicating the fullness of Catholic teaching to students. Therefore, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School will no longer be recognized as a Catholic institution by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.”

School leaders said that despite the archdiocesan decision, “our identity as a Catholic Jesuit institution remains unchanged,” in a June 20 statement to the school community.

The conflict between the school and the archdiocese began with an archdiocesan request that the contract of a teacher who is in a same-sex marriage not be renewed.

The school became aware of the teacher's same-sex marriage in the summer of 2017, according to a June 20 statement from Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ, head of the Jesuits' Midwest Province.

Paulson said the archdiocese requested “two years ago that Brebeuf Jesuit not renew this teacher’s contract because this teacher’s marital status does not conform to church doctrine.”

The school leaders wrote that “After long and prayerful consideration, we determined that following the Archdiocese’s directive would not only violate our informed conscience on this particular matter, but also set a concerning precedent for future interference in the school’s operations and other governance matters that Brebeuf Jesuit leadership has historically had the sole right and privilege to address and decide.”

Paulson stated that Brebeuf Jesuit “respects the primacy of an informed conscience of members of its community when making moral decisions.”

“We recognize that at times some people who are associated with our mission make personal moral decisions at variance with Church doctrine; we do our best to help them grow in holiness, all of us being loved sinners who desire to follow Jesus.”

He added that this problem “cuts to the very heart of what it means to be a Jesuit institution with responsibilities to both the local and universal church, as well as for the pastoral care we extend to all members of our Catholic community.”

“I recognize this request by Archbishop Charles Thompson to be his prudential judgment of the application of canon law recognizing his responsibility for oversight of faith and morals as well as Catholic education in his archdiocese,” the priest wrote. “I disagree with the necessity and prudence of this decision.”

The Jesuits maintain that their school's internal administrative matters should be made by their own leaders, rather than the local Church.

While the Code of Canon Law establishes that religious orders, like the Jesuits, “retain their autonomy in the internal management of their schools,” it also says that the diocesan bishop has “the right to issue directives concerning the general regulation of Catholic schools” including those administered by religious orders.

Canon law also says that the diocesan bishop “is to be careful that those who are appointed as teachers of religion in schools, even non-Catholic ones, are outstanding in true doctrine, in the witness of their Christian life, and in their teaching ability.”

The Church’s law adds that the diocesan bishop “has the right to appoint or to approve teachers of religion and, if religious or moral considerations require it, the right to remove them or to demand that they be removed.”

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis policy, which says that all school teachers and administrators have a responsibility to teach the Catholic faith, is a common interpretation of those norms in U.S. Catholic dioceses.

The archdiocesan June 20 statement notes that the archdiocese “recognizes all teachers, guidance counselors and administrators as ministers.” The 2012 Hosanna Tabor v. EEOC Supreme Court decision established that religious institutions are free to require those it recognizes as ministers to uphold religious teachings as a condition of employment.

The school's leaders claim that “the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ direct insertion into an employment matter of a school governed by a religious order is unprecedented.”

Fr. Paulson framed the problem as one of “the governance autonomy regarding employment decisions of institutions sponsored by the USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus.”

“Our disagreement is over what we believe is the proper governance autonomy regarding employment decisions which should be afforded a school sponsored by a religious order. In this particular case, we disagree regarding the prudential decision about how the marital status of a valued employee should affect this teacher’s ongoing employment at Brebeuf Jesuit.”

The school's leaders added that failing to renew the teacher's contract would cause “harm” to “our highly capable and qualified teachers and staff.”

“Our intent has been to do the right thing by the people we employ while preserving our authority as an independent, Catholic Jesuit school.”

The leaders noted that they “are prayerfully discerning how best to proceed with the process of appealing the Archdiocese’s directive.”

Fr. Paulson said the province will appeal the decision, first through the archbishop “and, if necessary, [pursuing] hierarchical recourse to the Vatican.”

Canon law establishes that “no school, even if it is in fact Catholic, may bear the title 'Catholic school' except by the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority,” in this case, the Archbishop of Indianapolis.

Brebeuf was founded in 1962 by the Society of Jesus. Its 2019 enrollment is 795 students, and tuition at the school is $18,300.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has previously addressed similar issues.

In August 2018, Shelley Fitzgerald, a guidance counselor at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, was placed on paid administrative leave. An employee of an archdiocesan school, Fitzgerald had attempted to contract a same-sex marriage in 2014.

At that time, Archbishop Thompson wrote that “the archdiocese’s Catholic schools are ministries of the Church. School administrators, teachers and guidance counselors are ministers of the faith who are called to share in the mission of the Church. No one has a right to a ministerial position, but once they are called to serve in a ministerial role they must lead by word and example. As ministers, they must convey and be supportive of the teachings of the Catholic Church. These expectations are clearly spelled out in school ministerial job descriptions and contracts, so everyone understands their obligations.”

He added that “When a person is not fulfilling their obligations as a minister of the faith within a school, Church and school leadership address the situation by working with the person to find a path of accompaniment that will lead to a resolution in accordance with Church teaching.”

The archbishop concluded: “Let us pray that everyone will respect and defend the dignity of all persons as well as the truth about marriage according to God’s plan and laws.”

 

Family Research Council president elected to chair religious freedom commission

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 15:00

Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2019 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- The president of a Christian political advocacy and lobbying group has been elected to serve as chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council and has been a member of the commission since he was appointed by Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2018.

“I would like to thank my fellow commissioners for entrusting me with the responsibility of guiding this Commission. It is an honor to work with this diverse group of dedicated professionals on such an important issue,” Perkins said June 19.

“I look forward to continuing our efforts to promote the fundamental human right of religious freedom for all people.”

USCIRF is a bipartisan commission that advises the President, Congress, and the Secretary of State on international religious freedom issues. It issues annually a report detailing religious persecution around the globe, and commissioners advocate for religious liberty protections with global leaders and domestic lawmakers.

Perkins, 56, served two terms as a Louisiana state legislator, and ran unsuccessfully as a Republican in the state’s 2002 senatorial race. In 2003, He became president of the Family Research Council,  a lobbying organization affiliated with Focus on the Family.

Although Perkins was elected as commission chairman, leaders at the “LGBT-rights” advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign told the Huffington Post that Perkins’ new role is “another weapon” in an “anti-LGBTQ crusade” perpetrated by the Trump administration, largely in response to Perkins’ opposition to same-sex marriage

Perkins has not responded to directly criticisms regarding his election.

In a June 19 column, however, he wrote that “as Christians, we must care about the plight of those suffering for their religious beliefs — even when those beliefs are very different from our own.”

“In China, the government has detained over 1 million Muslim Uighurs and subjects them to Communist Party indoctrination, forced labor and torture. Increasingly violent anti-Semitic attacks against Jews are on the rise in France. In Russia, Jehovah’s Witnesses regularly face criminal charges for practicing their faith. Iran’s Baha’i community is attacked for its religious identity. Yazidis in northern Iraq have been hunted mercilessly by ISIS, all for simply what they believe,” he wrote.

“These examples are all gross violations of the fundamental human right to religious freedom. In the face of such religious freedom violations and atrocities, it is my duty as a Christian to pray for these people and advocate for their religious freedom on their behalf.”

 

 

 

Catholic governor signs law enshrining abortion access

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 13:00

Providence, R.I., Jun 20, 2019 / 11:00 am (CNA).- Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the Reproductive Privacy Act on Wednesday. The act codifies the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade into state law.

The law permits unrestricted access to abortion at any time up to “fetal viability,” a disputed term with no fixed scientific meaning. Even after supposed viability, abortion will still be legal in cases where the life or health of the mother is at risk.

Raimondo, a Catholic, said when signing the bill that the abortion issue was a difficult one and that “there are good and principled people on both sides of the issue.”

“But in light of all the uncertainty in Washington, and frankly, around the country in many other states, there is a great deal of anxiety that … a woman’s right to access reproductive healthcare is in danger,” said Raimondo.

She described the bill as one that “preserves the status quo” in the Ocean State.

The population of Rhode Island has the highest percentage of Catholics of any state in the nation.

The Rhode Island Senate voted 21-17 to approve the bill. All five of the state’s Republican senators voted against it, together with 12 Democrats. In the Rhode Island House of Representatives, the vote was 45-29. In the House, one Republican voted in favor of the bill, and 21 Democrats voted against.

Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Pawtucket), a self-described “Catholic and pro-life” politician voted in favor of the bill.

During debate, Cano has said that she “believes that life is sacred” and that her faith is “very important,” to her.

“However, I also believe that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and I can’t impose my faith on others,” said Cano, who is currently pregnant.

A statement from the Rhode Island Catholic Conference, published following the Senate vote on Wednesday, called the passage of the legislation “a sad day for Rhode Island, and a tragedy for thousands of defenseless unborn.”

“We applaud the 17 senators who, by voting no, exposed the truth that this is much more than a mere confirmation of the status quo. Rather, the surprisingly close vote reflects the degree to which legislators knew in their private thoughts that this bill significantly expands abortion in Rhode Island.”

The statement was signed by Rev. Bernard Healey, director of the conference, who added that the legislation was “deeply disappointing.”

Before Wednesday’s vote, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence said on Twitter that he was praying that members of the Rhode Island Senate would vote against the bill. After the bill was passed, he tweeted that, although he was disappointed, he had “sincere appreciation” for the state’s pro-life community.  

“Your witness to the dignity of human life has been powerful, peaceful and prayerful,” tweeted Tobin. “God is pleased!”

Tobin also offered encouragement for the state’s pro-lifers in the face of shifting public opinion against unrestricted abortion, calling the law a “very temporary set-back.”

“We will continue to oppose the prevailing culture of death in our society and faithfully and joyfully proclaim the goodness and beauty of life! God bless you!”

May cooler heads prevail regarding Iran, US bishops plead

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 12:36

Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2019 / 10:36 am (CNA).- The US must avoid war with Iran and instead pursue dialogue and engagement, the chair of the US bishops' committee on international justice and peace wrote Tuesday amid escalating tensions between the nations.

“It is my sincere hope that the United States will initiate sustained dialogue with allies, world powers and Iran, in order to deescalate the current situation that is a danger to both the region and the world,” Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Military Services wrote in a June 18 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The US accused Iran of being responsible for explosions which hit two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week, which Iran has denied.

The Department of Defense announced June 17 it would deploy an additional 1,000 troops to the area in response to Iran's “hostile behavior.”

The same day, Iran announced it will surpass the limit on low-enriched uranium to which it had agreed in a 2015 nuclear deal reached under the Obama administration, unless Europe would protect its oil sales.

The nuclear deal had been welcomed by both the US bishops' conference and the Holy See.

Under the Trump administration, the US unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal agreement and imposed sanctions on Iran.

Both these factors “seem to have contributed to a pattern of heated rhetoric on the part of both Iran and the United States,” wrote Archbishop Broglio.

“The moves have also exacerbated tensions with close allies and other world powers. For its part, Iran has continued its verbal threats against Israel and the arming of various militia groups in the region,” he stated.

“In the absence of real diplomatic dialogue, military deployments and perceived threats on both sides increase risks of confrontation.”

The archbishop called it “ironic and troubling” that Iran “has threatened to resume some activities that potentially violate” the nuclear deal “in response to sanctions.”

“The Church consistently champions dialogue and engagement as ways to resolve political crises,” he said, recalling that the use of military force is permissible only as a last resort and when there is a probability of success.

“There is little probability that another war in the most volatile region in the world, where the recent and current experiences of conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen are vivid, will succeed in bringing peace to the region,” Broglio stated. “A different approach is needed. The President’s recent statement that the United States does not seek war with Iran is encouraging.”

Since Broglio's letter, tensions have only increased.

In the early hours of June 20, a US military surveillance drone was shot down by Iranian forces over the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran claims the drone violated its airspace, while the US claims it was over international waters at the time.

After the drone was downed Hossein Salami, commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said, “Iran is not seeking war with any country, but we are fully prepared to defend Iran … our borders are our red line.”

Peace Cross can stay, Supreme Court rules

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 11:00

Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2019 / 09:00 am (CNA).- The Supreme Court declared Thursday that a large, cross-shaped war memorial on public land is constitutional.

In a 7-2 decision, the court ruled in the case American Legion v. American Humanist Association that the Bladensburg Peace Cross does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and can remain on public land and be maintained by public funds.

The majority opinion, issued June 20, was authored by Justice Samuel Alito, who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh. Justices Elena Kagan and Clarence Thomas concurred with parts of Alito’s opinion.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were the only judes to dissent from the decision.

The Supreme Court reversed a previous Fourth Circuit decision that found that the monument was unconstitutional due to its overt religious symbolism. The monument was installed in 1925 to honor local soldiers killed in World War I. Presently, the county maintains the grounds of the monument, which the American Humanist Association argued was an entanglement of government and religion.

Writing for the majority, Justice Alito issued strong criticism of the soc-called “Lemon Test” that has been used since 1972 case  Lemon v. Kurtzman to determine if an action creates “excessive government entanglement with religion.” Alito wrote that the test “presents particularly daunting problems” in cases that involve religious words or symbols that are primarily for commemoratory or ceremonial reasons.

“Together, these considerations counsel against efforts to evaluate such cases under Lemon and toward application of a presumption of constitutionality for longstanding monuments, symbols, and practices,” wrote Alito.

The court determined that removing a longstanding monument like the Peace Cross “may no longer appear neutral, especially to the local community for which it has taken on particular meaning.”

“A government that roams the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and scrubbing away any reference to the divine will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion,” he said, adding that “Militantly secular regimes have carried out such projects in the past, and for those with a knowledge of history, the image of monuments being taken down will be evocative, disturbing, and divisive.”

While the Supreme Court did not reject outright the standards of the Lemon Test, the new decision limits its future application.

“The Supreme Court rightly recognized that religious symbols are an important part of our nation’s history and culture,” said Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, responding to the decision.

“We look forward to the coming gap in cable-news programming, as atheist organizations that made bank by suing over harmless religious symbols find a new line of work and learn to look the other way.”

Andrea Piccotti-Bayer, the legal advisor for The Catholic Association, an organization dedicated to “defending religious liberty, life, and the Church in the public square,” praised the Supreme Court for its “common sense and clarity” in deciding that the monument was constitutional.

“The Constitution does not require eliminating the great symbols of America’s religious pluralism from the public square,” said Piccotti-Bayer in a statement sent to CNA.

Disgraced ex-cardinal ‘Mr. McCarrick’ remains at Kansas friary, one year later

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 06:00

Denver, Colo., Jun 20, 2019 / 04:00 am (CNA).- One year after credible allegations of sex abuse of a minor led to his public disgrace, the 88-year-old Theodore McCarrick is no longer a cardinal of the Catholic Church, no longer an archbishop, and no longer a cleric. He continues to reside at a Franciscan friary in Kansas, perhaps indefinitely.

“Mr. McCarrick continues to reside at St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kansas. He is in poor health and remains under a supervision plan,” Father Joseph Mary Elder, O.F.M. Cap., communications director for the Capuchin Franciscans’ Province of St. Conrad, told CNA June 18.

“At this point, the length of his stay is indeterminate, but he is looking for lodgings closer to his family. There is no timetable for when or if that might happen,” said Elder. 

“Mr. McCarrick follows the everyday life and routine of a friar with the exception of public ministry; he lives in the same type of room as the friars, joins in the community prayers and the celebration of the Mass, and participates in community meals and interactions,” he continued.

McCarrick will turn 89 years old on July 7. He has been at the friary since September 2018, when then-Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl asked Bishop Gerald L. Vincke of Salinas, Kansas and Father Christopher Popravak, the Denver-based Capuchin provincial, to make arrangements to house McCarrick.

“Regarding payment for his lodgings, the Archdiocese of Washington was paying room and board for him until the time of his laicization,” said Elder. “While Mr. McCarrick has offered to pay out of pocket, the Capuchins have declined the offer.”

In January 2019 he was removed from the clerical state, one of the most extreme sanctions for a clergyman, and which deprives him of the right to financial support normally guaranteed to clerics under church law. Without this punishment, McCarrick’s former archdiocese would still be required to support him financially.

The decision to host McCarrick in the Salinas diocese was not taken lightly, Vincke said in a Sept. 13, 2018 letter to the diocese’s faithful.

Vincke, who had only taken office in August 2018, said he believes in both justice and mercy. In saying “yes” to hosting McCarrick, he said, “I had to reconcile my own feelings of disappointment, anger and even resentment toward Archbishop McCarrick,” he explained, stressing reliance upon Jesus Christ for guidance, mercy and forgiveness.

Vincke said he was “deeply sorry” for all victims of abuse, adding “This purification of the Church by God is painful, but much needed. We need the eyes of faith as we suffer through this.”

The Salina diocese did not provide additional comment in response to inquiries. McCarrick’s civil attorney, Barry Coburn of the Washington, D.C.-based firm Coburn & Greenbaum, on June 18 confirmed that he is still the ex-cardinal’s attorney but declined further comment.

In February, sources close to the former cardinal told CNA that he has private means of support in place. While McCarrick reportedly did not draw a salary or a pension from any of the three dioceses he led, he does have a private income from savings and monthly annuities.

“While he is not without resources, they are modest, in keeping with what one might expect of a parish priest,” a source close to McCarrick said.

One source speculated that the annuities could have come from “friends or benefactors” of the archbishop before his fall from grace.

McCarrick was well-known for giving envelopes of money to different bishops and cardinals, ostensibly to thank them for their work. Such practices have come under scrutiny as a possible source of corruption and unwarranted influence.

McCarrick was a co-founder and the longtime head of the Papal Foundation, which since 1990 has given over $100 million to support projects and proposals recommended by the Holy See. After a 2018 controversy over a $25 million grant from the foundation to a legally and financially troubled Italian hospital, questions have been raised about whether McCarrick attempted to use foundation influence and assets to forestall investigations against him.

As CNA reported in August 2018, McCarrick sat on the boards of two family foundations which helped funnel $500,000 to his personal archbishop’s fund over about a decade’s time.

McCarrick was a paid consultant for Thomas Donohue, president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Wall Street Journal reported June 6. Over the period 2011 to early 2018, Donohue paid him over $200,000 for advice on global development and other matters.

The day McCarrick was first accused of sexual misconduct, he contacted Donohue for help returning to Washington from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Donohue dispatched a private jet and later compensated the Chamber more than $23,000 for the flight.

The Chamber of Commerce spends the most on lobbying of any interest group in Washington. Donohue is also president of the board of the Chamber’s affiliate the Center for International Private Enterprise, which is part of the globally influential U.S. nonprofit the National Endowment for Democracy.

One year ago, on June 20, 2018, the Archdiocese of New York announced that its investigation found “credible and substantiated” allegations that McCarrick had committed sexual abuse of a teenager. It also came to light that the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen had previously reached out-of-court settlements with several adult men who alleged they were sexually abused by McCarrick during their time as seminarians.

In July 2018 McCarrick was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by Pope Francis pending the completion of a canonical process against him. That same day, the pope accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals.

That July another victim, James Grein of Virginia came forward to say McCarrick had begun sexually abusing him in 1969, when Grein was 11 and McCarrick was a 39-year-old priest. Some of the abuse took place in the context of the sacrament of reconciliation, further compounding McCarrick’s offenses. McCarrick was reportedly a friend to Grein’s Swiss-American family and Grein was the first baby he baptized as a priest, the New York Times reported.

Grein has said his family provided early financial support for McCarrick and trips to Switzerland with family members, which could have provided a key boost to McCarrick’s ability to network internationally and to rise in the Church.

While McCarrick’s fall shocked many, some said they had long heard rumors of questionable behavior towards adult seminarians. McCarrick’s fall brought scrutiny for U.S. bishops who had served under him, with many denying they knew of any misbehavior.

Pope Francis himself has faced questions. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former apostolic nuncio to the U.S., has charged that Pope Francis knew of sanctions placed on McCarrick. He said that McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct had been known to some Vatican officials for years, eventually leading to a restriction on the archbishop’s ministry by Pope Benedict XVI in the late 2000s, and a subsequent restoration of McCarrick’s place as a papal advisor by Pope Francis.

Since the charges first emerged, Pope Francis has maintained that he will not respond to the content of the Vigano letters, and instead has encouraged journalists to investigate their allegations. Some aspects of the former nuncio’s testimonial seem to have been verified, while other aspects remain controversial or unproven, and some have proven to have been exaggerated, overstated, or unlikely.

Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark and a former secretary to McCarrick, last month released apparent excerpts from private correspondence between McCarrick, the priest, and various other Church officials. In his view, these show high-ranking Vatican churchmen “likely had knowledge of McCarrick’s actions and of restrictions imposed upon him during the pontificate of Benedict XVI.”

The excerpts seem to contain admissions of wrongdoing from McCarrick, and to confirm subsequent reports about the Vatican’s response to the former cardinal’s behavior. But some Vatican officials have said Figueiredo’s report did not fully explain the ways in which McCarrick operated in the Vatican. They painted a picture of a man expert at exploiting a curial culture and creating an appearance of conflicting instructions that allowed him to justify his travels.

The excerpts from Figueiredo’s correspondence also appear to confirm reports that McCarrick played an ongoing, though sometimes unofficial, role in Vatican diplomatic efforts, especially in China, during the pontificates of both Benedict XVI and Francis.

McCarrick’s long career began, perhaps, with his ordination as a priest by the deeply influential Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York. He later served as an auxiliary bishop of New York before becoming Bishop of Metuchen, Archbishop of Newark and then Archbishop of Washington.

McCarrick’s career included time as a university leader and service on diplomatic missions and advisory roles for both the U.S. State Department and the Holy See. He has served on pontifical councils for Promoting Christian Unity, Justice and Peace, Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and for Latin America. Similarly, he served in the office of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See and as chair of multiple U.S. bishops’ conference committees.

 

Botched abortions at Missouri's last abortion clinic raise questions

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 19:49

St. Louis, Mo., Jun 19, 2019 / 05:49 pm (CNA).- In a legal battle over the closure of Missouri’s last functioning Planned Parenthood, state health department officials cited four botched abortions as part of the reason that they do not want to renew the clinic’s license, according to reports from the AP.

The closure of the clinic would mean the closure of the last abortion clinic in the state. Last month, Planned Parenthood sued the state of Missouri after the health department declined to renew the clinic’s license.

On Friday, June 14, the state’s health department sent the St. Louis clinic and the court “documents, a letter and statement of deficiencies,” the AP reported, which included details on the four botched abortions at the heart of the licensure dispute.

The records, which were published by pro-life group Operation Rescue in an expose, were ordered to be sealed by St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer on Monday, June 17, after Planned Parenthood voiced concerns that the publication of the documents violated their patients’ right to privacy, the AP reported.

William Koebel, a state health department official, told the AP that the records now sealed by the court documented the failed abortions of three patients, whose babies survived after the botched abortions, and required additional surgical or medical abortions to end the pregnancies. Koebel noted that one of the patients with a failed abortion developed sepsis, a serious bacterial infection of the blood stream.

A fourth patient’s abortion at 21 weeks of pregnancy was completed at the clinic, but the patient was hospitalized afterward with “life threatening complications,” Koebel told the AP. He also noted his concerns that some of the botched abortions were done by resident doctors, who have failed to comply with the state health department’s investigation of the clinic.

In early June, Stelzer ruled that doctors, including doctors in residence, who were not currently employed by the St. Louis Planned Parenthood did not have to testify in the state’s investigation of the clinic. Stelzer dismissed the subpoena for their interviews as an “undue burden” on those doctors.

Koebel told the AP that their cooperation is “imperative” for a full investigation.

“Refusal of health care providers to cooperate in the Department's investigations thwarts the Department's ability to conduct meaningful review of troubling instances of patient care, and obstructs the Department's ability to ensure that problems will not be repeated,” Koebel said.

Lawyers representing the Planned Parenthood affiliate secured a restraining order in late May from Stelzer, which allows the clinic to continue operating while its licensure is disputed in court. The clinic’s ability to operate is up for review again on June 21.

In a separate case, on Friday, June 14, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge David Dowd ruled that Missouri’s legislature cannot cut funding from the Planned Parenthood clinic, after the clinic argued that it not only provided abortions, but other health care services, according to a local Fox News affiliate. Missouri Governor Mike Parson said the decision will be appealed.

Parson also recently signed a bill that punishes abortion doctors who perform abortions on a woman who is past eight weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for medical emergencies which seriously threaten the life or quality of life of the mother. The law does not penalize women who obtain abortions.

Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis called the eight-week abortion ban “a giant step forward for the pro-life movement.”

Analysis: One year after McCarrick, what's next for the Church?

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 18:20

Washington D.C., Jun 19, 2019 / 04:20 pm (CNA).- Exactly one year after revelations about the sexual abuse of then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick were made public, the Church in the U.S. remains in a state of serious scandal, and Catholics remain angry and discouraged. But what’s next for the Church - what happens after McCarrick - depends as much on the decisions of ordinary Catholics as it does on the policy decisions of the U.S. bishops.

In 2002, McCarrick told the Washington Post in 2002 that to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse that had been uncovered that year, “everybody has to have a plan, everybody has to have a procedure, everybody has to have a policy."

His fellow bishops needed to begin "really tackling this in a more comprehensive way,” McCarrick told reporters.

It was April 2002 when McCarrick made those remarks. In the months that followed, he would become an architect, and a tireless promoter, of the U.S. bishops’ plans and policies to address clerical sexual abuse.

“I think we have to somehow make sure that our people know what we're doing, that the people know that the bishops are taking this seriously.”

People did not, in fact, know what McCarrick had been doing. By April 2002, Theodore McCarrick had serially sexually abused at least two minors, and sexually coerced dozens of young priests and seminarians.

Knowing now what he knew then, it seems incredible that McCarrick was celebrated in the Post as a “national leader” on clerical sexual abuse.

But he was.

In 2002, a scholar from Notre Dame told the Washington Post that McCarrick “understands the depth of the problem and the need to address it transparently...If his style of leadership were emulated, I think the church would be in better shape."

One year ago, one June 20, 2018, the Church learned far more than about McCarrick’s “style of leadership” than was expected. And the revelations about his decades of sexual abuse and coercion gave the Church a new look at the “depth of the problem.”

Since June 20, 2018, the Church in the U.S. has reeled from the Pennsylvania grand jury report, allegations of startling misconduct, neglect, or outright cover-up from many trusted or influential bishops, from the August letter of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, international reports concerning Bishops Gustavo Zanchetta, Jose Pineda, and Franco Mulakkal, from revelations concerning large cash gifts proffered by a bishop abuser, and from a USCCB and Vatican response to these disclosures that, in the judgment of many observers and commentators, has been tepid, at best.

It seems likely, even now, that more scandals, especially regarding finances, will be soon to emerge.

One year after McCarrick, what’s next? What will the Church face, and how will she face it?

It should be noted that the U.S. bishops’ conference has, despite multiple serious setbacks, passed some norms and policies intended to respond to this crisis. Those policies, are, in the view of many experts, a good start to policy reform in the Church, though only in the limited spheres they deign to address.

Those reforms have been panned by some critics as insufficient, merely reactionary, and totally inadequate to addressing an apparently complex constellation of problems, which includes immoral sexual activity, some of it coercive, by some priests and bishops, an apparent reluctance to stridently address those matters when they arise, a clerical culture that sometimes includes self-interest and self-protection, financial malfeasance, and a lack of accountability regarding those matters.

McCarrick called for policies in 2002, and in 2019, the bishops now have policies to address McCarrick.

But just as 2002's policies did not stop the McCarrick or Bransfield scandals, the USCCB’s measures are insufficient to resolutely address the scandal’s cluster of problems.

The bishops would be wise to recognize more publicly and directly the limited impact of policies and procedures, and the importance of personal integrity, virtue, accountability, and personal holiness.

But many Catholics say that while they have heard some bishops articulate that sentiment, they remain skeptical about even the just implementation of the bishops’ own reform policies. And their discouragement over those norms reflects a broader shift.

In fact, the most striking effect of the Church’s year of scandal is the degree to which faithful and practicing Catholics - among them priests, religious, and lay ecclesial staffers - have become discouraged, demoralized, and hesitant to trust.

And it has become clear that the U.S. bishops are unlikely to regain that trust in one fell swoop - through one grand or dramatic gesture of transparency, accountability, contrition, or condemnation. They had an opportunity for such a gesture at their November 2018 meeting, when they considered a resolution calling for the Vatican to release all available material on McCarrick. But that resolution failed.

It is clear that reform, and holding malfeasant bishops to account, will be a long-term project of limited success. Catholics will continue to call for greater accountability, transparency, and for basic answers to basic questions, but it remains to be seen whether their calls will be answered. If they are not, the scandal will be prolonged, and Catholics will likely grow even more demoralized.

In the meantime, the Church will suffer the loss of some Catholics, who have or will become less engaged in the practice of the faith in the wake of this scandal.

Of course, it is not only bishops who are responsible for preserving the bonds of ecclesial communion.

The Church has before faced crises occasioned by the sinfulness of its leaders. In each of those crises, believers have had to decide whether or not to remain in the communion of the Church, and to work themselves for reform and renewal. This case, is no different.

No policies or procedures can overcome the reality of fallen humanity. Each Catholic must ask himself, in the wake of the McCarrick scandal, what it is reasonable and just to expect of a Church predicated on the premise that each of its members is a sinner in need of redemption.

This exercise should not make excuses for malfeasance and ineptitude, but it should be an honest assessment of the limits of all human endeavors for reform.

One year after the initial disappointment, and then the compounding disappointments of cover-ups, denials, and missed opportunities, Catholics must begin to ask themselves whether they will still commit to communion with a Church of woeful sinners, and whether they will commit to its mission.

And, in this moment, each Catholic must ask himself whether his righteous indignation has become self-righteous hubris. After the initial shock of the last year has worn off, a protracted hermeneutic of suspicion or reactive anticlericalism is not likely to contribute to a renewal of the Church in the United States. But those things are a temptation.

Also a temptation is endless bureaucratic tinkering, empty promises, or covering-up for a culture of cover-up. Bishops must ask themselves how radically committed they are to their promises of reform.

In short, saints will move the Church forward, and each Catholic must ask himself whether he wishes actually to become a saint.

The project of the new evangelization is that of reproclaming in the Gospel in once Christian cultures. As the influence of the Church wanes - even on the moral and spiritual lives of Catholics - the secularity of American culture is, for many Catholics, laid clearly bare.

The McCarrick scandal could be the moment in which the Church steps back, to ask more fundamental questions about why so few people baptized as Catholics practice the faith into adulthood, and what can be done about it. Some bishops seem to have seriously taken up those questions in recent years, and others have not. Some bishops will see in this scandal the bigger picture, and others will not.

But nothing precludes laity, religious, and clerics aggrieved and angry about scandal to ask that question, and to look for answers that will bear more fruit than perduring fulmination against the failures of bishops.

Answers will be diverse. They should include ongoing and serious efforts for reform, but they should not be limited to those efforts.

Doubtless, some Catholics will say that a renewal of the Church will come from a resurgence of more traditional liturgical forms. Others will make mention of ecclesial movements like the NeoCatechumenal Way or Communion and Liberation. Still others will suggest evangelical initiatives like Focus or Word on Fire. That diversity - a motley flurry of evangelical activity - is likely the key to real renewal in the life of the Church in the U.S.

The history of the Church proves that there is not one methodology or program that has the corner on evangelization - that instead various spiritualities and movements can be fruitful, if they are rooted in the person of Jesus Christ.

That focus - which points toward a renewal far beyond hurried policy documents - is the key to a fruitful and living Church after the McCarrick scandal. Some bishops may lead on those fronts, while others disappoint, or seem to miss the mark. Some scandals will be addressed, while others may long go unresolved, and new ones will emerge. The life of the Church will be often messy, often disappointing, often frustrating, and always in need of renewal, reform, and conversion. Catholics, bishops included, will face the choice of working towards those ends, or not.

But a serious commitment to apostolic and evangelic activity- to the proclamation of the Gospel - is also the best prospect for reform. A holier Church, dedicated more zealously to mission, will also be a more just and less corrupt Church.

A great deal has changed in the aftermath of the McCarrick scandal. But sin, corruption, betrayal, and failure are not new to the Church. Nor is Jesus Christ, the source of grace, justice, and renewal, who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  
 

 

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