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US, Mexican bishops oppose Trump's plan to send National Guard to border

Sat, 04/07/2018 - 08:02

Washington D.C., Apr 7, 2018 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishops in both the US and Mexico have criticized the Trump administration’s plan to send National Guard troops to the southern border of the United States.

“The new measures on the border US-MX. Once again a senseless action and a disgrace on the administration,” tweeted Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio April 5.

“These measures manifest represion, [sic] fear, a perception that everyone is an enemy, and a very clear message: we don’t care about anybody else. This is not the American Spirit.”

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an order Wednesday to deploy the National Guard.

“A key and undeniable attribute of a sovereign nation is the ability to control who and what enters its territory,” said Trump in the April 4 memo. “The situation at the border has now reached a point of crisis. The lawlessness that continues at our southern border is fundamentally incompatible with the safety, security, and sovereignty of the American people. My administration has no choice but to act.”

The Pentagon stated Thursday that a “security support cell” was being developed to aid coordination between the Homeland Security and the Defense departments. The expected financial costs, number of troops, and time frame have not been announced, but the Pentagon said the cell will support U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.  

Both the Obama and Bush administrations had ordered the National Guard to attend to the border, but critics of the deployment have questioned the reasons behind this recent move when illegal border crossing is, broadly speaking, at historically low levels.

Fiscal Year 2017 saw nearly 304,000 people caught trying illegally to cross the border, the lowest number of since 1971. The number of apprehenions in March (37,393) is more than double from a year ago, but is less than in 2013 and 2014.

The Mexican bishops' conference tweeted against the militarization of the border, expressing concern that the move may put more Latin Americans at risk.

“It is extremely risky for our Mexican and Latin American people, to have a semi-militarized border. #JesusChrist #migrant, could be executed again for trying to cross #frontier.”

Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso wrote April 5 that it is his understanding that “the National Guard is a military force intended for the protection of our nation. They assist in times of natural disasters or respond to an armed threat from a foreign military force.”

“I am left with many questions to which there appear to be no reasonable answer,” he continued. “To what threat are the citizen soldiers of our powerful nation responding? Why are we placing a military force on the border when the vast majority of those in our country without documents are here because they have overstayed their visa? Why are we further militarizing a border that we share with a peaceful neighbor at a time when undocumented immigration across our border is at a low ebb? Is our nation reacting to a ragtag group of Hondurans who are fleeing for their lives seeking refuge? They are fleeing from a nation controlled by narco-trafficking gangs flush with cash provided by our nation’s insatiable appetite for illegal drugs.”

The bishop noted that many of those entering the country are seeking asylum, “following international asylum laws which our country had a major role in writing, to assure that people fleeing persecution and organized violence would be able to find safe refuge.”

“Have we become so fearful and hypocritical that we would expect a country like Lebanon to accept a number 30% the size of their population from Syria, but we ourselves cannot accept a fraction of one percent of those fleeing from the countries with the highest homicide rates in the world?” he asked. “If you were a Honduran whose children were being raped and told that they would have to do the gang’s bidding or die, what would you do?”

Bishop Seitz urged that Trump “stop playing on people’s unfounded fears.”

“I live on the border and my city is year after year one of the safest in the country. These troops are being asked to leave their families and their employment to come to our border where they can do battle against the wind. They will find no enemy combatants here, just poor people seeking to live in peace and security. They will find no opposition forces, just people seeking to live in love and harmony with their family members and neighbors and business partners and fellow Christians on both sides of the border.”

“I pray that our President will reconsider this rash and ill-informed action,” he concluded.

Parents in Ohio ask court to recognize personhood of embryos

Fri, 04/06/2018 - 19:24

Cleveland, Ohio, Apr 6, 2018 / 05:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After an in vitro fertilization clinic in Ohio lost more than 4,000 eggs and embryos, one of the couples is suing the clinic, asking a court to recognize an embryo as a person.

Wendy Penniman was one of many people to file a lawsuit against University Hospitals Fertility Center  after a malfunctioning cryogenic tank increased temperatures the weekend of March 3.

“We are asking the court to declare that an embryo is a person and that life begins at conception,” said the Penniman’s lawyer, Bruce Taubman, according to News 5 Cleveland.

Having first filed a lawsuit March 12, Taubman filed an additional complaint March 30, asking for a declaratory judgment on the legal status of an embryo. If embryos are recognized as persons, wrongful death suits could be brought against the fertility center.

Taubman has referred to a 1985 Ohio Supreme Court case, Werling v. Sandy, in which the court held that a viable fetus is a person.

“In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court held that an embryo is not a person, but that was solely for the purposes of obtaining an abortion,” said Taubman, according to News 5 Cleveland.

“I see this case ending up in front of the Ohio Supreme Court, and I would like to think that they are going to follow my line of reasoning and declare an embryo a person.”

But Harvard Law Professor Glenn Cohen told News 5 Cleveland, “Ohio has already had a case where they basically said you can't use this statute unless you're talking about a viable fetus, and this is so much earlier than that.”

The Pennimans chose to use IVF after suffering 11 miscarriages. Through the clinic, the couple had two children and was hoping to have a third with another one of the frozen embryos.

Having a degree in biochemical engineering herself, Penniman felt betrayed to hear how the lab handled liquid nitrogen and the malfunction.

Reportedly, an employee had turned off the alarm system so none of the staff offsite had been notified, and an issue occurred with the tank’s autofill valve, which replenishes the freezers with liquid nitrogen to keep the embryos cool.

“You think to yourself, 'How can this be going on behind the scenes?'” said Penniman, noting that the clinic should treat embryos and eggs with the same care as other patients.

“They trusted them with the most important thing they have: the future of their families. With the flip of a switch, they've lost the future,” Taubman added. 

Wuerl: On ‘Humanae Vitae’ anniversary, we renew fidelity to the pope

Fri, 04/06/2018 - 19:14

Washington D.C., Apr 6, 2018 / 05:14 pm (CNA).- “The Church, from the very beginning, has always recognized the special and unique role of Peter,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl at the closing Mass of a Catholic University of America symposium on the 50th anniversary of papal encyclical Humanae Vitae.

The role of Peter - as an authoritative teacher of faith and morals - was reaffirmed, Wuerl believes, by the US bishops’ response to initial controversy over Humanae Vitae.

During the Mass, celebrated in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Wuerl spoke of his personal experience as a young priest at the time of Humanae Vitae’s promulgation. He noted that he was taken aback by negative attitudes towards the encyclical.

“As a newly-ordained priest, I came very quickly in ministry to recognize that not every encyclical or apostolic exhortation meets with immediate acceptance,” he said, to laughter among the congregation.

Having begun his first priestly assignment just the year before, Cardinal Wuerl said that he was “surprised” by the “vehement rejection” of the encyclical, particularly in the archdiocese he now leads.

The Archdiocese of Washington, he said, was “one of the largest flashpoints of opposition.”

“I remember attending a lecture on this very campus [The Catholic University of America] in which it was explained to us that the teaching of Paul VI was his own personal views, and that it was not truly a part of the papal magisterium,” said Wuerl.

However, the dissent was far from universal, he said. Priests who agreed with the document and supported the pope as the “universal shepherd” were assisted by the United States Catholic Conference (a precursor to the USCCB) in writing a pastoral letter to help better explain and support the teachings outlined in Humanae Vitae. This letter, titled “Human Life In Our Day,” was published about four months after the encyclical was released.
Wuerl said this experience helped to confirm his beliefs in the importance of the teaching ministry of the pope, in addition to the overall teachings of the document.

“I was impressed then with the alacrity of the response in defense of the teaching office of Saint Peter and therefore the validation of the teaching of Humanae Vitae,” explained Wuerl.

“But there was another lesson that I saw confirmed in those days of dissent from Humanae Vitae – the importance of the teaching role of Peter. The issue was not just what was said, but also who said it.” The pope, regardless of which pope, is “Peter” and has the role of Christ’s vicar, Wuerl said.

Wuerl conceded that there is still much to be done in terms of implementing the teachings of Humanae Vitae for the good of the faithful.

“One half century later, we continue to set forth the teaching of Blessed Pope Paul VI concerning the proper regulation of the propagation of offspring, and over these five decades we have learned that it is not sufficient simply to announce the teaching and repeat the words of the encyclical.”

To assist with this endeavor, the cardinal suggested that this 50th anniversary be viewed as “a call to [....] whom we go out, announce, engage, and walk with as we try to help them grasp and appropriate the teaching of this encyclical.”

“Today then, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we commemorate the encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae, we renew our own fidelity to the Vicar of Christ. It is his voice that gives us assurance of the truth of what we profess."

Why Catholic dioceses are teaming up with Young Life

Fri, 04/06/2018 - 12:21

Portland, Ore., Apr 6, 2018 / 10:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Partnerships between dioceses and the ecumenical evangelization group Young Life aim to connect Catholic youths with their Catholic parishes.  

Young Life opened a Catholic relations office in 2012. Partnerships with bishops and their dioceses have been established over the past three years.

The first partnership began in 2015, in the Diocese of Brownsville.  In December 2017 the Archdiocese of Portland signed a memorandum of understanding with Young Life, beginning its own partnership with the group.

“[Young Life] approached the Catholic Church here in western Oregon and said ‘we have these Catholic kids and we want to make sure they are adequately ministered to,’” said Ricky Shoops, the archdiocese’s coordinator of youth and young adults.  

“When it comes to how [these kids] plug back into communities, into the sacraments, or ongoing catechesis for formation,” Shoop told CNA that Young Life encourages Catholic kids to be connected with the Church.

Founded in 1941 by a Presbyterian minister, Young Life is a non-denominational, evangelization organization located in over 110 countries worldwide. Young Life focuses on two major projects: outreach and accompaniment for teens, and young adults. The organization is traditionally associated with evangelical Protestant movements.

By promoting authentic friendship between youths and mentors, the organization says it aims to adolescents grow in their faith with camps, bibles studies, praise-and-worship nights, and other activities.

Mentors become involved in the lives of teens and college students. The mentors are urged to pray for the students, to provide opportunities to become more involved in church, to share advice, and to work alongside the students in acts of charity.  

Shoop said Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland saw the group as an opportunity. Meetings were held to discuss the possibility of a partnership, before the memorandum was signed. Shoop said the process has focused on educating Young Life leaders about Catholic teaching and culture, and on recruiting Catholic leaders to join Young Life.

Though the partnership is relatively new, Shoop said there have not yet been difficulties, but said there has been support for the partnership, and even ecumenical team building.

An interfaith event March 2, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Portland and Young Life, drew 240 people and raised almost $130,000 for the partnership’s efforts. Most of those contributions are intended to fund a Catholic staffer at Young Life.

Shoop said that teams from Young Life and the archdiocese often gather to share ideas and pray together, and that they host praise-and-worship nights, like an upcoming event on April 26 with Portland-area Catholic youth ministers and Young Life leaders.

Michael Havercamp, Young Life’s national liaison to the Catholic Church, said the Protestant-founded organization highly respects the Church. He said its goal is not to drive Catholics away from the faith but to encourage Catholic kids to enter more faithfully into parish life.

“We are not there to draw Catholics into any other Christian tradition. We want to them to grow where they have been planted. How we can help, though, is to help reanimate their faith in Christ and then reconnect them to the Catholic Church at the local level.”

Additionally, he said the goal is to aid Catholics in evangelization. Havercamp pointed to the rapidly growing population of people without religious affiliation and the need for tools to help ground adolescents in the Christian faith and parish level.

“We’ve heard more and more…about the rise of the nons, not religious women in habits, but those with no religious affiliation. Well, this is the largest and fastest growing religious demographic in the west and in the United States.”

As a Catholic himself, Havercamp said many Catholics struggle with the idea of evangelization, but cited the bishops and popes who have called for a “new evangelization.”

“[Catholics] have not fully realized their baptismal call to evangelize, or they feel very ill-equipped to do it.”

“The bishops, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops certainly, but also the worldwide college of bishops, have been very intentional about re-grounding the church in the mission, which is evangelization. Pope Paul VI, way back in 75, said the Church exists to evangelize.”

Havercamp hopes more partnerships with dioceses will begin as bishops realize Young Life is not looking to draw teens away from parishes, but instead to become a tool of the Church to aid Catholics in evangelization.

“This is what Young Life really wants to do, to normalize evangelization as the centerpiece to what it means to be Catholic and to learn the natural ways of doing this respectively, particularly as faith is being challenged in our age more and more.”


The fertility doctor who impregnated a patient - and the ethics of procreation

Fri, 04/06/2018 - 02:00

Denver, Colo., Apr 6, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A woman who discovered that her biological father is the fertility doctor who helped her mother conceive has filed a lawsuit against him. A leading bioethicist says the case points to the risk of devastation posed by artificial methods of conception.

Like a lot of people, Kelli Rowlette had a DNA sample analyzed through a genealogy website, to learn more about her her family’s heritage.

When she received results from the DNA testing, Rowlette discovered something that she was not expecting.

Rowlette discovered that her biological father was actually a fertility doctor who had treated her parents, who apparently used his own sperm to impregnate her mother without her consent, according to a report from NPR.

The doctor, Gerald Mortimer, had consulted with Rowlette’s parents when they were having trouble conceiving in 1980. Mortimer said Rowlette’s mother, Sally Ashby, had a tipped uterus, and diagnosed Ashby’s husband, Howard Fowler, with a low sperm count and low sperm motility.

Mortimer proposed that he artificially inseminate Ashby with a mixture of sperm from Fowler and a donor. Fowler and Ashby agreed, on the condition that the donor was a university student with similar features to Fowler.  

Mortimer is now alleged to have inseminated Ashby with his own sperm, without the couple’s knowledge or consent.

Upon discovering the deception, Rowlette recently filed a lawsuit against Mortimer and his wife, asking $10 million in damages for medical negligence, fraud, battery, and other charges.

In the lawsuit, Rowlette’s parents remarked that they would not have gone through with the fertility treatments had they known that Mortimer would use his own sperm in the procedure.  
The complaint said that Rowlette, Ashby, and Fowler have all “been suffering immeasurably” since this discovery.

While Rowlette’s situation may be unusual, Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk of the National Catholic Bioethics Center told CNA that stories like these point to the moral problems connected to IFV and similar fertility procedures.  

According to Pacholczyk, when procreation is separated from the “exclusivity between spouses,” it invites abuses and violations of dignity and privacy that can lead to devastating results for parents and children alike, as seen in Rowlette’s case.

Pacholczyk is an ethicist and the director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, an organization which conducts research, consultation, publishing and education to promote human dignity in health care and life sciences.

In order to “afford protection, knowledge of our origins, and the safety of the home hearth,” Pacholczyk said that procreation should be left between the intimacy of a husband and wife.

“The procreation of children speaks to us of a real exclusivity between spouses, and when we violate that exclusivity by hiring outsiders to produce our offspring in clinics, or engage strangers to provide their sex cells for these procedures, we do so at our own peril and that of our children,” Pacholczyk said.

“The Lord’s teaching that life should be engendered only within that exclusive martial embrace of husband and wife is a teaching that, regrettably, is no longer widely understood or acknowledged today.”


Video series highlights the men who are Knights of Columbus

Thu, 04/05/2018 - 20:11

New Haven, Conn., Apr 5, 2018 / 06:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Ordinary Catholic men in the Knights of Columbus can make a big impact in their communities and in people’s lives, and they are the focus of “Everyday Heroes,” a new online video series put out by the Catholic fraternal organization.

“This film series offers a glimpse into the many ‘ordinary’ ways in which the Knights serve those around them,” Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said April 3.

“‘Everyday Heroes’ are your brothers, friends and co-workers who quietly serve, often over many years,” Anderson added.

The Catholic fraternal service organization, founded in Connecticut in 1882 by the priest Ven. Michael J. McGivney, has nearly two million members in 15,000 councils around the world.

The series will talk about members from various ages and backgrounds. It will run new videos each week from April 3 to May 29 at the website

The first man profiled in the series is Joe Reali, a 25-year-old from Long Island, New York.

“Joe really was a larger-than-life kid. He more than inspired anyone he met. And that didn’t matter who you were,” Reali’s father, Michael Reali, Sr., said in the video.

His athleticism, charisma and piety struck those who knew him as similar to the example of St. Pier Giorgio Frassati, the Italian saint. Reali had been an altar server and at one time aspired to be a priest, attending the seminary for a short time.

“He’d invite people to Mass,” recounted his friend Father Michael Duffy. “He’d invite the football team in high school. If that’s not evangelization, then what is?”

Continuing his involvement in his parish, he signed himself and his brother Michael Reali Jr. up to join the Knights of Columbus, but died unexpectedly of an enlarged heart before he could be officially initiated.

His life had such an impact that thousands of people attended his funeral, filling his parish church for hours. A new Knights of Columbus council now bears his name: Joseph Mario Reali Council 16261 in Woodbury, N.Y. His brother, who had been reluctant to join the Knights, has served as the council’s head, the Knights of Columbus magazine Columbia reports.

Reali’s example continues to inspire people to return to the sacraments and go to church. The council named for him has attracted members and raises funds for charity, including for the renovation of Reali’s parish church.

Another video focuses on the Knights of Columbus council at the University of Notre Dame, whose members link their activities to Fighting Irish football games. Before the game, they grill and sell steaks to raise money for pro-life causes and other charities.

Among the Knights profiled in the series: former pro-baseball player Darren Miller and his son; James Wolf, who served and died in Iraq as a U.S. Army soldier; Chris Dooley, an athlete in several Special Olympics sports; and Jose Lebron-Sanabria, who served as a leader in Knights of Columbus relief efforts in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria last year.

Also featured are a group of “Singing Seminarians” supported by the Knights of Columbus; Canadian Knights who aid a Syrian refugee family; and men and women who take part in the Knights’ “Warriors to Lourdes” project which takes wounded veterans to the Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France.

The Knights of Columbus support many local, national and international charitable actions and groups. They collect coats for children in need, support the Special Olympics, and back relief efforts for Middle East Christians. They are major backers of the March for Life and the St. John Paul II National Shrine.

The organization’s members worked over 75.1 million hours of volunteer time and the organization gave over $177.5 million to charity.

Opus Dei vicar: We are fully united with the pope

Thu, 04/05/2018 - 18:56

New York City, N.Y., Apr 5, 2018 / 04:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).-  
In a letter to the New York Times, the U.S. vicar of Opus Dei said that the personal prelature has no conflict with Pope Francis, but supports him and is united with his mission.
“From my perspective, I don’t see that there’s any conflict with the Holy Father. Love for the Holy Father is part of our DNA. We pray for him every day. We learn from him,” Msgr. Thomas Bohlin told CNA April 5.
He quoted Opus Dei’s founder, St. Josemaria Escriva, who used to say that Opus Dei had three great loves in the Church: “Christ, Mary, and the pope.”
Bohlin spoke to CNA after responding by letter to the mention of Opus Dei in a March 24 opinion piece in the New York Times, written by Paul Elie, a senior fellow at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.
“While John Paul forged a relationship with Opus Dei — the strict and secretive movement with roots in the postwar Spain of Francisco Franco — Francis is at ease with the Community of Sant’Egidio, founded in Rome during the student uprisings of 1968 and now present in 70 countries, working with the poor, migrants, the elderly and people with AIDS,” Elie wrote.
Msgr. Bohlin responded in an April 3 letter to the Times’ editor. “As head of Opus Dei in the United States, I want to affirm that all of us in Opus Dei support the pope and his work as pastor of the universal Church,” he said.
Pitting Sant’Egido and Opus Dei in opposition to each other creates a false dichotomy, he said, adding that Pope Francis “can be at ease with both.”
Bohlin pointed to several signs of the Pope Francis’ support of Opus Dei.
“He has prayed at the tomb of Opus Dei’s founder in Rome; he has beatified Opus Dei’s first prelate, Álvaro del Portillo; and he has appointed several Opus Dei priests as bishops around the world,” the vicar said. “Recently, the pope sent a beautiful letter supporting a project for young people (UNIV) organized by members of Opus Dei.”
In his comments to CNA, Msgr. Bohlin said he felt compelled to write the letter because “we wanted to make sure that people know that we support the pope, we pray for the pope. He needs our prayer, he needs to feel that support.”
“We are very much on the wavelength of the Holy Father…We love the pope, and the pope loves and respects Opus Dei too.”
Bohlin objected to the depiction of Opus Dei as “strict and secretive,” saying that this is a “caricature” of the personal prelature, which is open about its mission in the Church.
“Opus Dei is fully a member of the Church. [It] spreads the message of holiness in ordinary life, especially among the laity, to be actively engaged in society through their work and their presence there, to bring the Christian message there and make it felt in the world.”
Opus Dei and Sant’Egido are not opposed to each other, he emphasized, adding, “It’s kind of a red herring to try to divide the Church that way.”
“We are all united with the Holy Father, in his message of mercy and love for the poor, imitating Jesus in this world today, being missionary disciples. All the things that Sant’Egido stands for are things that we too stand for.”
While Elie in his opinion piece emphasized the service work being done by Sant’Egido, Bohlin said Opus Dei also has a strong tradition of service, with projects all over the world. For example, he said, the organization runs a major hospital in Democratic Republic of the Congo, schools for poor children in Guatemala, and an inner-city center for kids in Chicago.
Bohlin clarified that Opus Dei does not have a specific mission to serve in one particular way. Rather, he said, “we try to set people on fire with the love of Christ,” and then encourage them to serve in whatever way they feel called. Members of Opus Dei work in hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, pro-life organizations and other charitable outreaches.
“We leave people a lot of freedom, but we urge them, ‘Take your talents, and go out and serve,’” he said.

Meet Lidia Bastianich, the woman who cooked for two popes

Thu, 04/05/2018 - 05:01

Brooklyn, N.Y., Apr 5, 2018 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- If you were asked to cook for the Pope, what would you choose to make? This was a real question for chef Lidia Bastianich in both 2008 and 2015 – the years in which Benedict XVI and Pope Francis visited the United States.

“I remember vividly,” Bastianich told CNA. “It was an extraordinary experience.”

“When I got asked to cook for Pope Benedict, I didn’t believe it was going to happen. I remember I laughed and said, sure, Monsignor, I would love to, but is that a reality?”

Bastianich, 71, is a chef, cookbook author, and restaurateur. An Italian immigrant who came to the United States as a young girl, she is an expert in Italian-American cuisine who has hosted several cooking shows on public television. Her memoir My American Dream was published April 3.

The process of cooking for a pope during an apostolic journey begins well before he arrives, with the formation of a team of chefs and wait staff. From there, the menu of the meals is planned and sent to the Vatican for approval.

Benedict XVI

Doing research, Bastianich learned that Benedict’s mother had been a cook and she thought that he would have “some good food memories” from that time in his life, which she wanted to evoke.

For Benedict XVI they were scheduled to prepare two meals: a large dinner for the pope and around 50 cardinals and bishops the first night, and on the second night a smaller dinner that would also be his 80th birthday celebration.

For the first big dinner the menu included string bean salad with sheep’s milk ricotta, pickled shallots, and toasted almonds; ravioli with pecorino and pears; risotto with nettles, fava beans, and ramps; whole roasted striped bass with boiled fingerling potatoes and a frisee salad. And for dessert: apple strudel with honey vanilla ice cream.

For the dinner celebrating his birthday and his third anniversary as pope, they prepared asparagus salad with pecorino, fava beans, and green chickpeas with lemon and olive oil; and a round, flat pasta filled with meat, called “agnolini,” in chicken broth.

The main dish was a beef goulash with a side of pan-fried potatoes and onions, served with sauerkraut and sour cream for a German touch. Dessert was an apricot and ricotta crostata and a chocolate-hazelnut cake with the words “Tu es Petrus”, topped with a two-foot-tall marzipan mitre.

After the meal, Benedict told Bastianich that the meal was “very good. The flavors of my mother.”

“I was so happy that he ate, that he enjoyed it, that the memories were those of his childhood,” she said. “I wanted to make him feel at home.”

Two special moments she recalls were when they brought in his birthday cake and sang “Happy Birthday” in English and Italian. They handed him the knife to cut the cake, but when he hesitated, Bastianich reached over. “I actually helped him cut it!” she laughed.

Another touching moment, Bastianich noted, took place after the dinner: a diplomat performed a violin sonata and Benedict invited the whole kitchen staff to come, sit down, and listen to the music with him.

Pope Francis

For Pope Francis, Bastianich’s first instinct was to go with an Argentine theme and serve lots of meat, but the Vatican turned down her first menu proposal because Francis must eat lighter things for his health.

Instead she chose to focus on his northern Italian heritage, preparing heirloom tomatoes, house-made burrata, and steamed lobster; capon soup with Grana Padano raviolini, veal medallions, Boscaiola, porcini, corn, and fresh tomato; and concord grape sorbet with angel food cake for his first dinner in New York.

Bastianich and her staff were also in charge of preparing Francis’ breakfasts, though all he wanted each morning was some fresh orange juice, tea, and toast.

They also prepared his bedside table at night with a glass of water and a banana, she said. “I put a few cookies, too. I wasn’t supposed to, but I put a few cookies.”

Friday’s lunch consisted of cooked and raw vegetable salad with ricotta; risotto with porcini, summer truffles, and Grana Padano Riserva; and roasted pears and grapes with vanilla gelato.

At dinner they served pear and pecorino-filled ravioli, aged pecorino, whole roasted striped bass, late summer vegetables with extra virgin olive oil and lemon, and apple crostata with local honey ice cream.

One memory of Pope Francis’s visit stands out for Bastianich in particular. After lunch on Friday, he went to rest in his room, she said. The staff were in the kitchen taking a coffee break and discussing their plans for the next meal when they suddenly heard the pope’s security staff running and shouting “Papa, Papa!”

“And all of a sudden, we see [Pope Francis] enter the kitchen,” she said. “And he peered in and said, “Posso avere un caffe, per favore?” – “Can I have a coffee, please?”

“He sipped on his espresso and he talked to each one of us. He spent a good 20 minutes with us in this simple kitchen, us dressed in our chef clothes. It was so intimate, so wonderful.”

Before leaving, she recalled that “he reached into his pocket and pulled out a rosary for each one of us, and handing it to us said, ‘pregate per me,’ pray for me … It was extraordinary.”

Her Catholic faith

Bastianich has been a Catholic from birth and said that personal prayer is very important to her. “I feel that ever more… I need to talk to God because I need his guidance,” she said.

She also noted that she has a special devotion to the Madonna of the Miraculous Medal, which she carries with her every day.

Despite growing up in communist Yugoslavia, “the faith was always a part of me, I always believed,” she said. Unfortunately, at this time, her family could not go to Mass and she had to be baptized in secret. Her grandmother taught her and her brother prayers when they would visit.

When she was ten years old Bastianich’s family escaped back into Italy, staying for two years in a camp for political refugees before immigrating to the U.S.

A benefactor paid for her to attend a Catholic school run by a religious order and she said that those two years were when she really learned about her faith. During this time, she would also cook with the sisters in the school’s kitchen.

Those years in the refugee camp, when food was scarce, have given her a greater appreciation for helping people out of her abundance, she said. “He gave me so much, but what he gave me is not mine to keep, I have to share, he has to show me the way that I can share what he has given me with others.”

Archbishop Chaput: Paul VI would not be surprised by the #MeToo movement

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 21:01

Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2018 / 07:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- “The #MeToo movement, emotional wreckage, sexual disease and date rape are the realities we’ve inherited from the sexual revolution. Paul VI would not be surprised,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput in a speech Wednesday.

“The Church in Humanae Vitae identified and rejected sexual exploitation of women years before that message entered the cultural mainstream,” said Chaput.

The Archbishop of Philadelphia spoke April 4 on the need to heal the wounds in human sexuality and marriage by embracing God’s vision for love and marriage. He was delivering the opening keynote for a symposium at the Catholic University of America celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Humanae vitae.

The April 4-6 conference gathers scholars from across the US in Washington, D.C., to discuss the encyclical, from the philosophical underpinnings of the Church’s teaching on contraception to pastoral initiatives with natural family planning.

Chaput pointed out how prescient was Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical on the regulation of birth in its predictions of the societal effects of widespread use of contraception.

Humanae vitae predicted that the pill would contribute to increased objectification of women and conjugal infidelity.

“Turn on the radio or TV and see how this has played out … As late as the 1980s, much of our popular entertainment still showed casual sex as affectionate, healthy and fun, with few if any consequences,” explained Chaput.

“Today’s film and TV dramas are very different. They’re far more wounded and vastly more cynical. Lena Dunham’s cable series ‘Girls,’ and the short story ‘Cat Person’ published by New Yorker magazine and the media uproar it created, are just two of the most obvious examples,” he continued.

The encyclical also accurately predicted and warned that governments would implement birth control as a form of population control (ten years before China introduced its One Child Policy).

Bl. Paul VI expressed concern that contraception would “mislead human beings into thinking they had unlimited dominion over their own bodies, relentlessly turning the human person into the object of his or her own intrusive power,” said Chaput.

“Much of the moral conflict, broken family life, social unraveling, and gender confusion that seems so common today stems – directly or more subtly – from our disordered attitudes toward creation, and our appetite to master, reshape and even deform nature to our wills. We want the freedom to decide what reality is. And we insist on the power to make it so,” he said.

“Each of his [Paul VI’s] warnings has come true, in ways more tragic than he could imagine,” said Chaput.

In the face of the fulfillment of these predictions, “Our mission now, as always, is not to surrender to the world as it is, but to feed and ennoble the deepest yearnings of the world – and thereby to lead it to Jesus Christ, and his true freedom and joy,” affirmed Chaput.

“Men and women fall in love with each other because they see a reflection of God’s beauty and goodness in each other - body, mind, and soul. God is a communion of persons united in a love so fruitful that it overflows into the created world. That world gives glory to God and reflects his attributes, especially that crown of creation, human beings. We’re uniquely created in the image and likeness of God. God has therefore made our love fruitful, like his own, and called us to take part in the creation of new life,” he said.

“Humanae Vitae is remembered for the great ‘no’ that Paul VI uttered, and rightly so. But we often forget that his ‘no’ came only after an even more powerful ‘yes’ to the beauty of marital love,” explained the archbishop.

“Pope Paul begins Humanae Vitae by noting four key elements of married love. Married love is human. It’s an act of the free will by which a man and woman are joined, body and soul, in a communion of life. It’s also total, a gift of one’s whole life and self. It’s also faithful, a gift made exclusively to one person until death. And marriage is finally fruitful, overflowing to new life like the love of the God in whose image we are made,” Chaput continued.

Bl. Paul VI called us to lives of self-giving love and self-denial, the archbishop said.

“The Church believes what she believes about human sexuality because of what she believes about the meaning and dignity of the human person as a whole. We care for the poor and work against injustices like human trafficking for the same reasons we believe that sexual love is reserved for marriages between men and women who are open to children,” explained Chaput.

He argued firmly against the popular narrative that Christian sexual morality is repressive, pointing out an irony that “beneath all of today’s enlightened talk about liberating human sexual behavior is a contempt for the weakness and inefficiency of the flesh.”

It is contraception that “presupposes that a woman’s body should work like a man’s in order for a woman to flourish and be free,” with its treatment of “her fertility and biological rhythms are problems and weaknesses; in effect, a disease that needs to be managed,” said Chaput.

“And yet it’s the Church – not the pharmaceutical industry with its profits and manufactured infertility, or the doctors who deal with the pill’s collateral health damage, or the abortion industry that cashes in lavishly on the failures of contraception, but the Church – that gets criticized as abnormal and intrusive. Nothing speaks more nakedly to the doublethink we now accept as the rhythm of our daily lives,” he said.

“Pope Francis warns that our desire for mastery and autonomy has created a human crisis similar to the crisis of our natural environment,” said Chaput.

He quoted Pope Francis’ article in the book “Not Just Good, but Beautiful: The Complementary Relationship between Man and Woman”, in which the Roman Pontiff wrote, “marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.”

Facebook apologizes for blocking Steubenville's ad

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 20:21

Steubenville, Ohio, Apr 4, 2018 / 06:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Facebook has apologized for what it called a “mistake” in rejecting a theology ad from Franciscan University of Steubenville, on the grounds that an image of the cross was too violent and sensational.

“Your image, video thumbnail or video can’t contain shocking, sensational, or excessively violent content,” was Facebook’s response, according Tom Crowe, web communications director for Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Used to promote Steubenville’s master’s programs in theology, catechetics, and evangelization, the image was of the San Damiano Cross, a 12th century cross most commonly associated with the university’s patron, Saint Francis of Assisi.

On Monday, a Facebook spokesperson apologized for the error, stating “sometimes we make mistakes.”

“This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologize for the error and have already let the advertiser know we approved their ad,” the spokesperson continued.

Since other ads with this image have been approved, Crowe told Fox News it was likely that this was not “systemic religious bigotry” but a one-off mistake, possibly from a low-level Facebook employee with a grudge against Christianity.

“Facebook approved other ads with the exact same image, which again leads me to believe it wasn’t an algorithm, but was a low-level staffer who skims many, many ads and just had something personal against this one,” he said.

Crowe was never given the exact reason behind the error, but the mistake did spur him to write a reflection on the culture’s view of the cross and its rejection of Christ.

“The San Damiano Cross. Jesus in glory, reigning from his cruciform throne. This is what the monitors at Facebook consider excessively violent, sensational, and shocking,” he wrote in an article on the university’s website, titled “He was Rejected.”

“And indeed, the Crucifixion of Christ was all of those things. It was the most sensational action in history: man executed his God.”

However, Crowe said, the violence only emphasizes Christ’s love for humanity.

“It was not the nails that held Jesus to the cross: he was God, he could have descended from the Cross at any moment,” said Crowe, quoting Catholic author Fr. Mike Schmitz.

“No, it was love that kept him there. Love for you and for me, that we might not be eternally condemned for our sins but might have life eternal with him and his Father in heaven.”

Worcester bishop rebukes 'blasphemous' writings of Holy Cross professor

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 19:14

Worcester, Mass., Apr 4, 2018 / 05:14 pm (ACI Prensa).- The Bishop of Worcester has issued a sharp rebuke to the College of the Holy Cross after it came to light that its Chair of New Testament Studies, Tat-siong Benny Liew, had written a book a decade ago suggesting that Christ was a “drag king” who had “queer desires.”

In a March 30 statement published on the Diocese of Worcester’s website, Bishop Robert McManus called for the college to ask Liew to clarify his views on the nature of Christ, and ask him to disavow his previous writings, or at the very least clarify whether or not he still would defend his past views.

“In light of the controversy caused by Professor Liew’s writings, Holy Cross has a duty to, at least, ask Professor Liew if he rejects the biblical positions he penned some ten years ago or if he supports and defends those positions today,” said McManus.

If Liew were to walk back his past claims, McManus said he should do so in a public manner, “as so not to create confusion” about Christ’s nature.

If he does not, McManus said that the school is risking the integrity of its religious mission.

“If he does not, then it is my duty as the Bishop of Worcester to clearly state that such teaching is a danger to the integrity of the Catholic faith and, in prudence, warn the Catholic faithful committed to my pastoral care that such unorthodox teaching has no place in a Catholic College whose mission is to promote and cultivate the Catholic intellectual tradition.”

Bishop McManus said the conclusions Liew reached are “both false and perverse,” and he was “particularly concerned” that his book was displayed by the Religious Studies Department.

College of the Holy Cross President Fr. Philip Boroughs, SJ defended Liew, saying that while he disagreed with his ideas and interpretation of Christ and his sexuality, “Academic freedom is one of the hallmarks of a liberal arts education.”

McManus took issue with Boroughs’ defense, saying that while academic freedom is indeed a “critical” part of a Catholic institution, “how that academic freedom is exercised, particularly in the fields of Theology or Religious Studies, cannot provide cover for blatantly unorthodox teaching.”

Liew’s writings became widely known after an article written by Holy Cross senior Elinor Reilly was published last month in the independent campus publication The Fenwick Review. A group is planning a demonstration and public rosary on campus asking Liew either to “disavow his attack against Christ” or to quit his position.

The College of the Holy Cross did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Martin Luther King's legacy: faith, hope and sacrifice

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 18:58

Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2018 / 04:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Fifty years after the death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Catholics can still learn much from his legacy, said a leader in the largest predominantly black Catholic organization in the U.S.

“Dr. King’s legacy is one of faith and overcoming external forces working against you. His life, work, and ultimate sacrifice illustrate that we are called to work for the greater good,” Percy Marchand, associate director of the Knights of Peter Claver, told CNA April 3. “Dr. King’s legacy is a shining example of self-deprecation and personal sacrifice for one’s fellow man.”

“Dr. King would not want us to look upon this day in sadness,” Marchand continued. “He would want us to look at it with inspiration and rededication; with hope and commitment; with love and compassion – even for our enemies or those who don’t love us.”

The Knights of Peter Claver is a New Orleans-based Catholic fraternal order present in about 39 states and in South America. Its membership is significantly African-American but open to all practicing Catholics without regard to race or ethnicity. Many of its members played a role in the U.S. civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, in which King, a Baptist minister, was the most prominent leader.

On Wednesday, the order joined in observing the 50th anniversary of the 1968 assassination of King in Memphis, Tenn. Catholic Bishop of Memphis Martin D. Holley led celebrations of two Masses and a “Walk of Faith” from a Catholic church to the National Civil Rights Museum in time for a program and a moment of silence.

Knights of Peter Claver Supreme Knight James Ellis and executive director Grant Jones were among those in attendance at the Memphis events.

“Dr. King was just a young man when he accepted the challenge that would ultimately lead him to being one of the most influential and powerful leaders in our history,” Marchand told CNA. “He wasn’t a millionaire. He wasn’t famous. He hadn’t ‘made it.’ We must each look at our lives and ask what we are doing to lead, to serve, to positively impact the world in which we live.”

“Our Catholic faith is rooted in humanity and teaches us that we were created in the image and likeness of God,” he continued. “Therefore, we have no room for promotion or tolerance of racism.”

While many Catholics were involved in the civil rights movement from the start, “there were many more who were actively fighting against civil rights and still more who stood silent,” Marchand noted, stressing that Catholics must be “strong in our faith” and must live out Catholic social teaching.

“We must directly face the evils that tend to divide us or negatively impact others,” he said. “This is what our Teacher, Jesus Christ, illustrated through His own life.”

“Dr. King taught us to be principled and genuine in our faith and actions. He taught us not to lower ourselves or compromise our values. He taught us to have faith and be obedient to our Heavenly Father rather than dwell on worldly problems,” said Marchand, adding that King “allowed God to lead his path and ultimately, his message prevailed.”

Marchand suggested many Catholics needs to improve their efforts to truly understand diversity and inclusion.

“The Church must be bold and purpose-driven when it comes to standing up for what is right and just – for all people,” he said.

Historically, some in the Catholic Church failed to stand up against segregation and racism, Marchand said.

“While the Church has certainly become more diverse in the years since the civil rights movement, Catholics in the South who had known slavery and segregation as a way of life, looked at those systemic issues as natural.”

As Church leaders started to take a stronger stance in rejecting segregation, Catholics were called by their faith to “turn away from hate and divisiveness,” he said, and the Church allowed many Catholics to “come together and begin the process of healing.”

In Marchand’s view, race relations within the Church have significantly improved since King’s day.

“In culturally diverse parishes across the country social interactions in various ministries have provided opportunities for all Catholics to learn and understand each other better,” he said. “Divisions remain in the Church to this day. We still have what are considered ‘White parishes’ and ‘Black parishes’ but the differences tend to be more about worship style and comfort rather than exclusion and hate.”

The Knights of Peter Claver were founded in Mobile, Ala. in 1909 by four priests and three Catholic laymen to serve African-Americans and other racial minorities. Its founders were concerned the Catholic Church would lose black Catholics to fraternal and secular organizations, at a time when racism in some parts of the South sometimes curtailed participation in parish life and Catholic associations.

In their opposition to segregation, the Knights of Peter Claver worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League. One of its leading officers, civil rights attorney A.P. Tureaud, worked with future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to help overturn segregation laws. The order’s New Orleans headquarters hosted early meetings that led to the launch of the civil rights movement.

The order has six divisions, including the Ladies of Peter Claver and two separate junior divisions for young men and young women.

A Knights of Peter Claver spokesman told CNA that many local units of the organization would hold their own commemorations of King.

Supreme Court declines to hear pro-life group's undercover video appeal

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 14:14

Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2018 / 12:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from a pro-life group seeking to release undercover footage detailing alleged misconduct in the abortion industry.

The cases – David Daleidan et al. v. National Abortion Federation et al. and Troy Newman v. National Abortion Federation et al. – were appealed this past August after a lower court sided with the National Abortion Federation in the lawsuits.

The Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case means that the lower court decisions will stand, and additional footage may not be released.

David Daleidan is the project lead at the Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life group that released a series of undercover videos in 2015 allegedly demonstrating the illegal sales of body parts from aborted babies.

The released videos appeared to show various Planned Parenthood and StemExpress executives discussing, often callously, their practices for obtaining and selling fetal body parts. Daleidan alleged that Planned Parenthood was profiting from these sales, which is illegal under federal law.

Other videos appeared to show abortion doctors describing how they would perform illegal late-term abortions in violation of state laws, utilizing a series of loopholes, and one cracked a joke on camera about how her “biceps appreciate” when a drug kills the fetus before it is delivered.

At stake in the current lawsuits are several other unreleased videos that were shot at the 2014 and 2015 annual meetings of the National Abortion Federation. Daleidan attended the conference and filmed portions of it while using an alias.

The National Abortion Federation – a nonprofit that represents abortion clinics – filed suit in 2015 to prevent the videos from being released, claiming they were illegally recorded. Daleidan has defended himself against these allegations by saying he is a citizen journalist, and the videos were protected as part of his work as a reporter.

On Twitter, Daleidan said that the Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation of Planned Parenthood means that the unreleased footage will “only grow more and more relevant” until it will be eventually released.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">As <a href="">@TheJusticeDept</a> continues to investigate <a href="">@PPact</a> for the criminal sale of baby body parts, the undercover footage that Judge Orrick continues to suppress will only grow more and more relevant until it can finally be revealed to the public.<a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PPSellsBabyParts</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ShutThemDown</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; David Daleiden (@daviddaleiden) <a href="">April 3, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

The Center for Medical Progress claims to have many more hours of unreleased video of abortion providers.


MLK’s example means no sitting on the sidelines, Catholic bishops say

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 05:16

Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2018 / 03:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bells will ring out in honor of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination April 4, and Catholic bishops say it is a time for Christians to ask God what they need to do to counter racism.

“The moment is also an opportunity for us to pause and reflect individually on what we are doing to build the culture of love, respect and peace to which the Gospel calls us and to also ask ourselves how we seek to help our brothers and sisters still suffering under the weight of racism,” the bishops said.

April 4 marks the 50th anniversary of the civil rights leader’s 1968 assassination in Memphis, Tenn. Commemorations will include a moment of silence and a worldwide bell-ringing campaign.

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and The King Center in Atlanta will begin to ring bells at 6:01 p.m. Central Time. The City of Memphis bells will follow at 6:03 p.m. Nation-wide, bells will begin to ring at 6:05. Then international participants will begin two minutes later.

In Washington, D.C., the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will also take part. Its bells will peal 39 times, King’s age at his death, “in homage to Dr. King’s legacy and his many contributions including the principle of non-violent resistance,” the U.S. bishops said.

The tolling of the basilica’s bells will be broadcast live on the basilica’s Facebook page at

In Memphis, local Catholics will participate in the commemoration.

Memphis Bishop Martin D. Holley, who is African-American, will celebrate 9 a.m. Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral with visiting bishops and Catholic clergy of Memphis. There will be a period of reflection after Mass, followed by a time of reflection and then a rosary at St. Peter’s Church.

Bishop Holley will say Mass at the National Shrine of St. Martin de Porres and help lead a “Walk of Faith” from St. Peter’s Church to the National Civil Rights Museum in time for the program and the moment of silence.

The U.S. bishops’ administrative committee offered Catholics questions for reflection.

“What are we being asked to do for the sake of our brother or sister who still suffers under the weight of racism? Where could God use our efforts to help change the hearts of those who harbor racist thoughts or engage in racist actions?” the bishops asked.

They said inspiration can be found in King’s steadfastness in non-violent resistance, “even in the face of years of ridicule, threats and violence for the cause of justice.”

“Dr. King came to Memphis to support underpaid and exploited African-American sanitation workers, and arrived on a plane that was under a bomb threat. He felt God had called him to solidarity with his brothers and sisters in need,” the bishops said.

They cited King’s final speech the night before he was killed, in which he noted the threats against him and voiced his preference for a long life.

“But more important to him, he said, was his desire to simply do the will of God,” the bishops said.

Their statement cited the Gospel of John: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.”

James Earl Ray, a small-time criminal with a prison record and a history of hatred for African Americans and King in particular, pleaded guilty to the 1968 assassination, then recanted and claimed he was a peripheral figure in a broader conspiracy. A Congressional committee concluded in 1978 that Ray was the killer, although others might have been involved, Ray’s 1998 New York Times obituary said.

“Our faith urges us to be courageous, to risk something of ourselves, in defending the dignity of our neighbor who is made in the image of God,” the bishops continued. “Pope Francis reminds us often that we must never sit on the sidelines in the face of great evil or extreme need, even when danger surrounds us.”

“We can best honor Dr. Martin Luther King and preserve his legacy by boldly asking God—today and always—to deepen our own commitment to follow His will wherever it leads in the cause of promoting justice.”

The bishops noted the many events put on by The King Center this year, listed at its website

What the pope said when Martin Luther King was killed

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 20:00

Memphis, Tenn., Apr 3, 2018 / 06:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was fatally shot outside his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

King is remembered as the most visible leader of the civil rights movement, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and as the founding president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. But he was first a pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, and remained active in pastoral leadership throughout his life.

On the day after King was killed, Pope Paul VI expressed remorse during his Angelus address, saying that the civil rights leader was “a Christian prophet for racial integration.”

Shortly after King’s death, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Council of Churches, the Synagogue Council of America, and the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in the Americas released an interfaith statement, mourning their colleague in ministry.

We “bow together in grief before the shameful murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a unique apostle of the non-violent drive for justice, [and] affirm that no service of remembrance or local memorial is equal to the greatness of his labor or the vastness of our national need.”

The faith leaders also applauded the efforts of Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1968, encouraged Americans to support measures favoring integration, and pled with government officials to fund legislation aimed at fighting poverty.

We “affirm that only through massive contributions by the American people can this nation duly honor the life-offering of Martin Luther King, Jr. and responsibly lift up the burden of the poor and oppressed in our land.”

The statement also promised to implement coordinated efforts among religious communities to fight poverty.

We “declare our intention to take immediate steps to develop a coordinated sacrificial effort on the part of the American religious community to help the disadvantaged,” the statement read.
Faith leaders were not the only ones to pay tribute to King after his assassination.

On the night King was killed, Senator Robert Kennedy, a Catholic, spoke to the people of Indianapolis, urging them to greater compassion and a deterrence from violence. Kennedy spoke during a stop on his 1968 campaign for President, delivering the news to a multiracial crowd that King had been assassinated.

“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black,” he said on April 4, 1968.

Kennedy referenced the assassination of his own brother, President John F. Kennedy, which had taken place in 1963.

“For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times,” Kennedy said.

The senator urged Americans to take up King’s efforts, pray for King’s family and the nation, and join in solidarity those longing for peace.  

“The vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land,” he added.

“I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love--a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.”

Commentary: Why ‘CINO’ label isn’t helping the Church

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 18:02

Denver, Colo., Apr 3, 2018 / 04:02 pm (CNA).- On Monday, Villanova University won the NCAA basketball tournament for the second time in three years. The University of Notre Dame won the women’s tournament on Easter Sunday, beating Mississippi State with a last-second 3-pointer from junior Arike Ogunbowale, who had beaten Connecticut with a last-second shot just two days earlier.

Ogunbowale was a heavily recruited college prospect, but she chose Notre Dame after attending a Catholic high school, because she wanted to grow in faith.

From many corners, though, as these Catholic colleges celebrate their victories, I’ve been hearing a familiar criticism: that Villanova and Notre Dame, like many schools, aren’t “really” Catholic colleges - that they’re “CINO” - Catholic in Name Only.

The CINO label usually gets applied to Catholic colleges, hospitals, and other institutions which seem to have wavered in fidelity and enthusiasm for the fullness of truth, or to have rejected directly tenets of the faith.

Of course, with a few notable exceptions, many Catholic colleges in the United States seem to jettison their Catholicity whenever it’s inconvenient, or to choose only those parts of being Catholic that appeal to donors, students, and faculty. Their administrators seem often to be afraid of alienating anyone who thinks doctrine old-fashioned or intolerant, or, perhaps, to think those things themselves.

It is a scandal when Catholic colleges compromise the faith to appeal to the elite tastemakers of secular academia, or when chronically dissenting campus ministry programs and theology departments are more likely to alienate students from faith than to form them as disciples. It’s discouraging when “serious” universities seem to be embarrassed by serious Catholicism. It’s tempting to simply write them off.

But the CINO label isn’t helping the problem. In part because it isn’t true. And in part because it lets college administrators off the hook.

In a juridic sense, a Catholic university is Catholic because it is recognized as such by an appropriate ecclesiastical authority, and, as such, it is accountable to the mission and norms for Catholic universities outlined in John Paul II’s Ex corde ecclesiae. Being a mediocre Catholic university, or a dissenting Catholic university, doesn’t change the thing itself: in a juridic sense, a university is Catholic because the Church says it is, even if, by failure to live up to its mission, or to observe those norms, it is a failing Catholic university.    

In a deeper sense, a Catholic university takes its identity from the vision, hope, and faith of the Catholic people who built it.  

The majority of Catholic colleges in the United States, Villanova and Notre Dame among them, were built mostly with the pennies of immigrants, who hoped to found institutions to educate their children without compromising their faith. They were commissioned and supported by bishops who hoped they’d do just that. They were founded, at least many of them, by the pioneering missionary priests and sisters of religious orders.

America has Catholic universities because men and women were willing to fight the elements, fight their poverty, and fight unrelenting anti-Catholicism in order to build them.

Compromising Catholic identity is a betrayal of those sacrifices, and demands accountability.

But telling universities they are “Catholic in Name Only” cedes the premise that they are supposed to act like genuine Catholic institutions. The CINO label is another way of telling colleges that faithful Catholics don’t expect much from them. And, frankly, faithful Catholics have the right to expect faithfulness from Catholic universities. Vocally. And often.

But the CINO attitude is a way of letting ourselves off the hook, too.

It’s easy to carp about Catholic universities, to focus on their failings, to wonder when bishops will act, and to believe they’ll never change. But faithful Catholics are called to something else.

Pope St. John Paul II said, repeatedly, that every Catholic is called to the “new evangelization.” The first step of that project, he said, is to “remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community.”

This means, in practice, to preach the Gospel to Catholic institutions that seem to have jettisoned it. Catholic universities come to mind, among others.

We’re responsible, in other words, for the renewal of dissenting Catholic colleges, or lackluster parishes, or morally compromised Catholic hospitals. We’re responsible to call them to conversion. We’re responsible to witness to the faith. We’re responsible to offer them our help.

It’s comforting for us to write off “CINO” institutions, suggesting they aren’t really Catholic, whenever they disappoint us. But they are Catholic. And if our Catholicism is more than just a name we carry, we have to help them live that mission.

Injunction allows abortion for undocumented teens

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 15:37

Washington D.C., Apr 3, 2018 / 01:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued an injunction on Friday that blocked a Trump administration policy which prevented undocumented teenagers being held in federal custody from undergoing abortions.

The injunction is preliminary and the government can appeal. Chutkan also certified a class action of other pregnant undocumented teens who are seeking abortions.

Last March, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement said that federally funded shelters could not provide or facilitate abortion services without permission from office director Scott Lloyd. The government is being sued over this policy in the case Garza v Hargan.

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union released the transcript of a December deposition of Lloyd, in which he admitted that he had not approved any abortions during his tenure, nor did he believe that undocumented minors had a Constitutional right to have an abortion. The ACLU has referred to the current policy as “cruel.”

Chutkan ruled in October and again in December that three pregnant undocumented teenagers, all of whom came to the United States illegally at age 17 and were being held in government-funded shelters, should be provided with abortions. The teen from the October decision, identified only as “Jane Doe,” eventually had an abortion after several appeals in various courts.

In the injunction, Chatkan said that the Office of Refugee Resettlement is denying the teenagers in federal custody “the right to make their own reproductive choices.” She also said that the plaintiffs suing the government have a “strong likelihood of success” in their case.

In October, Texas bishops criticized the decision to allow the teen to have an abortion. She was approximately 15 weeks pregnant at the time. Texas prohibits abortions after 20 weeks.


Founder of 40 Days for Life enters Catholic Church on Easter

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 15:07

Fredericksburg, Va., Apr 3, 2018 / 01:07 pm (CNA).- David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, entered the Catholic Church on Easter, giving thanks for the inspiration of influential Catholics, including his wife and children.

“After years of prayer, discernment, and a whole lot of wrestling with God, I was received into full communion with the Catholic Church at last night's Easter Vigil,” wrote Bereit in an April 1 Facebook post.

Bereit celebrated Easter with his family at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia. His wife Margaret was his sponsor, and his son Patrick was an altar server at the Mass. His daughter Claire and mother-in-law Helen were also in attendance.

Bereit said that he had been attending Sunday Mass with his wife – who is Catholic – every week for the last 28 years, ever since their second date at St. Mary's Catholic Center at Texas A&M in 1990.

But while he and Margaret shared many things in common as Christians, Bereit said he also longed to be more unified in their church affiliation and therefore spent years wrestling with the Catholic Church.

“I struggled with many questions, misconceptions, and hangups along the way. I have endeavored to continually learn and grow through prayer, studying Scripture, theology, and church history, reading, and seeking wise counsel,” he said.

“Throughout my life I have also been surrounded by many amazing Catholic Christians whose faithful, loving witness has continually inspired and attracted me – most notably the beautiful example lived out by my incredible wife and wonderful children.”

Last September, Bereit experienced a profound encounter of faith during Eucharistic adoration. Soon after, he began attending RCIA classes, which he said led to a more fruitful Lent and Easter this year.

“Lent took on far more meaning than usual for me, as I prayed and fasted more intensely than ever with a focused desire to continue growing closer to Christ. Now I am filled with joy, and am at complete peace, about this next step in my life-long journey of faith.”

In 2004, Bereit began 40 Days for Life as a local prolife advocacy group in Bryan-College Station, Texas. The group has grown into an international organization, holding Christian campaigns of prayer and activism to end abortion. Over the course of 40 days, participants hold a 24/7 prayer vigil outside of a single abortion facility in the community. The organization also engages in community outreach, through partnerships with churches and door-to-door petitions.

Bereit stepped down as CEO in 2016, but continues to be actively involved in the pro-life movement.

He said in his Facebook post that his decision to become Catholic may be surprising to some, but it will not change his dedication to serve the entire body of Christ.

“This journey has deepened my appreciation for a wonderful Christian upbringing, my years of experiences within the Presbyterian Church, the time I was involved with Evangelical ministries while in college, and the blessing of getting to work and pray alongside the many different parts of the Body of Christ in my 15+ years of pro-life work.”


LA archdiocese issues pastoral guidelines for Native American communities

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 02:38

Los Angeles, Calif., Apr 3, 2018 / 12:38 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles has signed 17 new protocols recognizing the Native Americans of California as the “First People of the Land” and offering guidelines for pastoral service toward their communities.

“Today we commit ourselves to going forward on a path of mutual respect, recognition and dialogue,” said Archbishop Gomez at a signing ceremony at the Museum and Cultural Center at Kuruvungna Springs last week.

“We honor the rich contributions that the ‘first peoples’ of the land have made to the Catholic Church from the beginning – here in Los Angeles and throughout the Americas.”

The new protocols recognize the history of Native American communities in building up missions throughout the archdiocese. They also offer guidelines to welcome Native American communities, incorporate their indigenous perspectives, and respect their traditions.

“These protocols that we are signing today are not a treaty or a legal document. They are a promise. A promise that we will work together so that our future will be more hopeful than our past,” Archbishop Gomez said.

Under the new protocols, liturgies, ceremonies, and celebrations in which Native Americans are formally and publically participating “may include a traditional blessing with sacred herb (sage, tobacco) by a member or members of the Native American tribe or band.”

Liturgies incorporating Native American communities or traditions “may use as chalices and ciboria non-porous ceramic vessels specifically and solely reserved for liturgical use.”

Authenticated Native American Indian burial sites are not to be used as construction sites by Church entities, the protocols state. In addition, when construction by a Church entity begins, “the ground breaking ceremony may include a traditional blessing of the site by a member of the local Native American tribe or band within whose traditional lands the new site is located.”

The new protocols also state that local tribe leaders should be consulted to ensure that parish and school displays about Native Americans are accurate. They allow for Catholics who are direct descendants of Native Americans tribes to request “Catholic sacraments and services, notably baptism, confirmation, marriage and Christian burial, in the mission churches with which they are historically associated without having current membership in the local mission parish.”

The county of Los Angeles has the largest population of urban Native Americans in the United States, with over 150,000 self-identified urban Native Americans from more than 50 tribes.

“I am proud to stand with my brothers and sisters from the four Nations whose sacred homelands lie within the boundaries of what is today the Archdiocese of Los Angeles – the Chumash, the Tataviam, the Tongva, and the Acjachemen,” Archbishop Gomez said.


Hundreds of Catholic employers win injunction against contraception mandate

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 18:29

Washington D.C., Apr 2, 2018 / 04:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A federal judge ruled in favor of the Catholic Benefits Association last week, issuing a permanent injunction and declaratory relief against the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate.This means that organizations belonging to the CBA do not have to provide coverage of drugs, the use of which they believe to be immoral, as dictated by the mandate.

The CBA represents more than 1,000 Catholic employers, all of whom seek to provide health insurance for their employees without violating their religious beliefs. In 2014, the CBA filed two federal lawsuits against the HHS mandate which required all insurance plans to cover contraception, sterilization procedures, and emergency contraception. More than 88,000 people work for companies that are part of the CBA.

Companies that are not part of the CBA are still subject to the mandate, which remains in place as-is. The Catholic Church teaches that contraception and direct sterilization are “morally unacceptable” means of regulating birth.

The CBA argued that this mandate, which was not part of the Affordable Care Act, was forcing Catholic employers to violate their deeply-held religious beliefs. U.S. District Court Judge David Russell agreed, and issued the permanent decision. This injunction will prevent the federal government from enforcing the mandate, and Russell also ruled that this mandate had been in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by attempting to force employers to provide contraception and sterilization, in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Failure to comply with the mandate meant that businesses were subject to fines. The companies that make up the CBA had collectively accrued $6.9 billion in fines, which were eliminated with the ruling.

In a statement provided to CNA, CBA CEO Douglas G. Wilson, Jr. said the association was “most grateful” by the decision, and he urged other Catholic employers who are struggling with complying with the mandate to join the CBA. Wilson said that this ruling was a win for religious freedom.

“The ruling directly protects all current and future CBA members,” said Wilson, adding that he was grateful that the CBA is “now in a position to protect even more Catholic ministries and businesses.”

What’s more, said Wilson, is that Russell’s ruling is an “important judicial validation of religious liberty” in the context of the First Amendment and of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Wilson believes that this will pave the way for other religious groups to protect themselves against the mandate.

“His ruling creates a precedent which, we are sure, will be cited by religious faiths across America in their own resistance to these immoral intrusions.”

Since the HHS mandate was announced in 2012, several groups have filed suit against the government in opposition to its demands. The Supreme Court ruled in 2014 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. that closely-held corporations with religious employers opposed to the mandate cannot be forced to comply with it. Hobby Lobby is a craft store owned by Christians who were opposed to certain drugs included in the mandate.

The Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of Catholic women religious who operate nursing homes for the elderly poor, also filed against the mandate. The Little Sisters of the Poor were granted an exemption from the mandate, but were back in court in November 2017 to argue their case once again.