Latest News Releases from USCCB
WASHINGTON—Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on International Justice and Peace, has issued the following statement in response to today's terror attack in Barcelona:
"Once again, an act of terror has taken more than a dozen lives and injured scores of others. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops unequivocally condemns this morally heinous act and places itself in solidarity with the people of the Archdiocese of Barcelona and Spain at this terrible time of loss and grief.
Terrorist attacks on innocent civilians can never be justified. To directly attack innocent men, women and children is utterly reprehensible.
Our prayers are with the families of those slain and injured in a particular way as we also pray for an end to terrorism. May God comfort the afflicted and convert the hearts of those who would perpetrate such acts. May our Lord bless both our world and those suffering today from this attack with the gift of peace."
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Oscan Cantu, terror attack, Barcelona, innocent civilians, terrorism, peace.
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, are calling on all people of goodwill to join in prayer and unity today in response to yesterday's violent protest and deadly attack in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Full statement follows:
"As we learn more about the horrible events of yesterday, our prayer turns today, on the Lord's Day, to the people of Charlottesville who offered a counter example to the hate marching in the streets. Let us unite ourselves in the spirit of hope offered by the clergy, people of faith, and all people of good will who peacefully defended their city and country.
We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love's victory over every form of evil is assured. At Mass, let us offer a special prayer of gratitude for the brave souls who sought to protect us from the violent ideology displayed yesterday. Let us especially remember those who lost their lives. Let us join their witness and stand against every form of oppression."
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Frank Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Charlottesville attack, racism, white supremacy, neo-nazism, violent ideology, witness, peace, good will.
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement in response to the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia that has left three dead and at least 19 injured.
Cardinal DiNardo's full statement follows:
"On behalf of the bishops of the United States, I join leaders from around the nation in condemning the violence and hatred that have now led to one death and multiple injuries in Charlottesville, Virginia. We offer our prayers for the family and loved ones of the person who was killed and for all those who have been injured. We join our voices to all those calling for calm.
The abhorrent acts of hatred on display in Charlottesville are an attack on the unity of our nation and therefore summon us all to fervent prayer and peaceful action. The bishops stand with all who are oppressed by evil ideology and entrust all who suffer to the prayers of St.Peter Claver as we approach his feast day. We also stand ready to work with all people of goodwill for an end to racial violence and for the building of peace in our communities.
Last year a Task Force of our Bishops Conference under Archbishop Wilton Gregory proposed prayers and resources to work for unity and harmony in our country and in our Church. I am encouraging the bishops to continue that work especially as the Feast of St. Peter Claver approaches."
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Charlottesville attack, national unity. Evil ideology, St. Peter Claver, racial violence, peace, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, unity, harmony, country.
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Africa approved 54 grants totaling nearly $1.4 million in funding to support dioceses and pastoral projects across the African continent.
Projects approved to receive funding include:
In Angola, the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (CEPAMI) is a commission under the Episcopal Conference of Angola and São Tomé that promotes the pastoral care of migrant communities. CEPAMI will provide training to about 40 leaders over two weeks. With this training, leaders will be able to assist, guide and organize the pastoral work for migrant communities in the 19 dioceses of Angola.
In West Africa, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Liberia will organize a summer camp for 100 youth from each of the three dioceses located in that country. Many of the youth are from poor families and have few resources. The country itself has suffered greatly from a 14 year civil war and the Ebola outbreak. This camp will provide a place for the children to stay, pray, receive basic catechism lessons and play together.
"Our brothers and sisters on the African continent often face challenges different from what we know in the United States, but we are united by the same faith," said Cardinal Joseph Tobin, CSsR, of Newark, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Africa. "The generosity of Catholics in the United States to the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa has supported these communities as they grow and strengthen their faith in the wake of wars, migration, and disease."
Additional areas of funding include seminarian and religious formation, evangelization, family ministries and lay leadership training.
The Subcommittee on the Church in Africa oversees the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Solidarity Fund, which is a voluntary collection, as pastoral grants to episcopal conferences and their regional associations in Africa. To learn more about the work of the Subcommittee visit www.usccb.org/africa.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Subcommittee on the Church in Africa, grants, training, pastoral care, Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa
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WASHINGTON— Pope Francis has named Bishop Emmanuel Challita of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto, Canada, as Bishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of Saint Peter the Apostle in San Diego. The pontiff also named Bishop Frank Kalabat of the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, Detroit, as the apostolic administrator of the Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto.
The appointments were publicized in Washington, August 9, by Msgr. Walter Erbì, Chargé d' Affaires, at the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States.
Emmanuel Challita was born in Fishkabour-Zakho, Iraq, in 1956. He holds a doctorate in biblical theology from the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome. He was ordained a priest of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle in 1984 and was ordained and installed as Bishop of Mar Addai on February 6, 2015.
Frank Kalabat was born in Kuwait in 1970, and moved to the United States in 1989. He began seminary studies at St. Francis De Sales Center in San Diego, California, and pursued theological studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. He was ordained a priest in 1995, and was ordained and installed as Bishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle on June 14, 2014.
There are an estimated 38,000 Catholics in the Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto.
There are an estimated 65,150 Catholics in the Chaldean Eparchy of Saint Peter. The jurisdiction extends to the western states of the United States.
Keywords: bishop appointment, Pope Francis, Bishop Emmanuel Challita, Chaldean Catholic, Eparchy of Mar Addai, Toronto, Bishop Frank Kalabat, Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, Detroit, Chaldean, Eparchy of Saint Peter the Apostle
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WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Father Andriy Rabiy as auxiliary bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Father Rabiy, 41, currently serves as vicar general of the archeparchy and as pastor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Reading, Pennsylvania.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, August 8, by Msgr. Walter Erbì, Chargé d' Affaires, at the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States.
Andriy Rabiy was born October 1, 1975 in Lviv, Ukraine. He pursued seminary studies at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Washington, D.C., and was ordained a priest in 2001.
Bishop-elect Rabiy holds a bachelor degree in philosophy (1999) and a licentiate in Canon Law (2008) from Catholic University of America; and a master of divinity degree (2002), from the Dominican House of Studies, in Washington D.C.
After ordination, Bishop-elect Rabiy held pastoral assignments at St. Michael the Archangel parish, Hillsborough, New Jersey, and at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 2002-2005. Other assignments after ordination include: pastor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Reading, 2008-present; coordinator, Sexual Abuse Prevention and Youth Protection Office, 2008-2015; member, Administrative Board, Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, 2008-present; vicar general, 2009-present; vice-chancellor, 2009-present; member, Archeparchial College of Consultors, 2009-present; member, Archeparchial Presbyteral Council, 2011-present.
The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia includes the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and parts of eastern Pennsylvania. It has a total Catholic population of 13,051. Archbishop Stefan Sokora has been the archbishop since 2001. The archeparchy currently has another auxiliary bishop, Bishop John Bura.
Keywords: bishop appointment, Pope Francis, bishop-elect, Andriy Rabiy, auxiliary, Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, Archbishop Stefan Sokora, Bishop John Bura
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WASHINGTON—The Synod of Major Archbishops of the Syro-Malankara Church has erected the Eparchy of Parassala, India, and with the assent of Pope Francis, elected as the first bishop of this new eparchy, the Most Reverend Thomas Mar Eusebius Naickamparambil. Up until now, Bishop Eusebius has been bishop of the Syro-Malankara Eparchy of Saint Mary Queen of Peace of the United States and Canada.
The Holy Father has also given assent to the nomination of the Most Reverend Philipose Mar Stephanos Thattathil, up until now auxiliary bishop of Tiruvalla, India, as the next bishop of the Syro-Malankara Eparchy of Saint Mary Queen of Peace of the United States and Canada.
The appointments were publicized in Washington, August 5, by Msgr. Walter Erbi, Chargé d'Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in the United States.
Bishop Philipose Mar Stephanos was born May 9, 1952 in Pathanamthitta, India and was ordained to the priesthood on April 27, 1979. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Tiruvalla on January 25, 2010 and installed on February 9, 2010.
Bishop Eusebius was born June 6, 1961 and ordained a priest, December 29, 1986. He was ordained a bishop on September 21, 2010 at Saint Mary's Cathedral, Trivandrum and was installed as the first bishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Apostolic Exarchate in the USA. He was later appointed as the first bishop of the then newly established Eparchy of St. Mary Queen of Peace for the Syro-Malaknara faithful in USA and Canada on December 18, 2015 and was installed as its bishop, January 23, 2016.
The Syro-Malankara Eparchy of Saint Mary Queen of Peace is based in Elmont, New York and has around 11,500 members with 16 parishes in the United States and Canada.
The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is centered in southern Indian and has about 500,000 faithful. Parassala is located in the southern-most part of this region.
Keywords: Pope Francis, Most Reverend Thomas Mar Eusebius Naickamparambil, Most Reverend Philipose Mar Stephanos Thattathil, Monsignor Walter Erbi, Chargé d' Affaires, Apostolic Nunciature, Syro-Malankara Eparchy of Saint Mary, Queen of Peace, Syro-Malaknara Faithful, United States, Canada, Parassala, India.
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WASHINGTON—The Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, says that the newly proposed RAISE Act would cause our nation to turn its back on those setting out to build better lives, weaken family bonds and impact the nation's ability to respond to those in crisis. Bishop Vásquez's full statement follows:
"I express strong opposition to the RAISE Act, which was introduced today in the U.S. Senate by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA). Had this discriminatory legislation been in place generations ago, many of the very people who built and defended this nation would have been excluded.
The United States supports families and should not throw up obstacles to their unity. Unfortunately, the RAISE Act would have our nation turn its back on this long and storied tradition of welcoming families setting out to build a better life.
The RAISE Act would permanently cap the number of refugees allowed safe passage, thereby denying our country the necessary flexibility to respond to humanitarian crisis. As a Church, we believe the stronger the bonds of family, the greater a person's chance of succeeding in life. The RAISE Act imposes a definition of family that would weaken those bonds.
I urge the Senate to reject this measure and implore Congress and the President to work together in a bipartisan fashion to enact into law comprehensive immigration reform. I believe that such reform must recognize the many contributions that immigrants of all backgrounds have made to our nation, and must protect the lives and dignity of all, including the most vulnerable."
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, RAISE Act, Bishop, U.S. Senate, Senator Tom Cotton (RAR), David Perdue (R-GA), legislation, families, refugees, safe passage, humanitarian crisis, Congress, President, comprehensive immigration reform, bipartisanship, immigrants, human dignity.
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America awarded nearly $4 million in funding in the form of 244 grants to support the pastoral work of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, and nearly $2 million in funding for continued reconstruction in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. The grants were approved at the Subcommittee's meeting on June 12 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Projects that received funding include:
· Argentina, GRAVIDA—Centro de Asistencia a la Vida Naciente: This network of diocesan centers in Argentina works to promote, care for, and defend life from the moment of conception and promotes the dignity of parenting. These centers are located in 21 dioceses across the country and care for pregnant women at risk of having an abortion as well as with men to help them understand the value of fatherhood. The centers provide education and formation about the dignity of human life and conduct solidarity and awareness campaigns.
· Haiti, Catechetical Formation: This project will provide formation for 400 pastoral agents from four parishes that were impacted by Hurricane Matthew. The formation will be centered around the theme of the Christian family, and will take place over the course of three days. Seminars, workshops and group discussions will be facilitated, along with opportunities for prayer and daily Mass.
In addition, the first grant to help rebuild churches on the western part of Haiti after Hurricane Matthew was approved. More of these requests will be considered at future meetings of the Subcommittee.
"I am continually inspired by all of those who support the Collection for the Church in Latin America," said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. "The generosity of Catholics across the United States makes a difference in the lives of countless people in Latin America and the Caribbean. This generosity reflects the love and compassion of God. I can see this especially in the response we received to help the victims of Hurricane Matthew. With that help, we not only fund pastoral projects, but help rebuild churches in some dioceses of Haiti."
Other areas of funding include lay leadership training, seminarian and religious formation, prison ministry, and youth ministry. Grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Latin America, taken in many dioceses across the U.S. on the fourth Sunday in January. The grants to Haiti are funded by the Special Collection for Haiti, which occurred after the 2010 earthquake. These reconstruction efforts are managed through the Partnership for Church Reconstruction in Haiti (PROCHE).
The Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. It allocates revenue received from the Collection for the Church in Latin America as grants across Latin America and the Caribbean. More information about the Collection for the Church in Latin America and the many grants it funds, as well as resources to promote it across the country, can be found at www.usccb.org/latin-america.
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Keywords: Latin America, youth, clergy, lay formation, Collection for the Church in Latin America, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, catechesis, grants, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo
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WASHINGTON—In response to last night's Senate vote on the "skinny repeal" bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has issued the following statement:
"Despite the Senate's decision not to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last night, the task of reforming the healthcare system still remains. The current healthcare system is not financially sustainable, lacks full Hyde protections and conscience rights, and is inaccessible to many immigrants. Inaction will result in harm for too many people.
A moment has opened for Congress, and indeed all Americans, to set aside party and personal political interest and pursue the common good of our nation and its people, especially the most vulnerable. In order to be just, any bill for consideration must:
Protect the Medicaid program from changes that would harm millions of struggling Americans.
Protect the safety net from any other changes that harm the poor, immigrants, or any others at the margins.
Address the real probability of collapsing insurance markets and the corresponding loss of genuine affordability for those with limited means.
Provide full Hyde Amendment provisions and much-needed conscience protections.
Any final agreement that respects human life and dignity, honors conscience rights, and ensures that everyone can access health care that is comprehensive, high quality, and truly affordable deserves the support of all of us.
The greatness of our country is not measured by the well-being of the powerful but how we have cared for the 'least of these.' Congress can and should pass health care legislation that lives up to that greatness."
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, "skinny repeal" bill, Hyde Amendment, safety net, Medicaid, poor, immigrants, conscience rights, access, affordability, common good.
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe approved over $4.8 million in funding for 206 projects in 22 countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Projects approved for funding include:
· The Don Bosco Center for Education in Albania, founded 21 years ago, provides cultural, social, and academic resources to over 1,000 children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. The center provides stability and aid to the rapidly growing population of people from rural areas moving into the city to find work. The center also offers elementary, middle and high school education and has a vocational training center, a youth center, and a day care center. The grant will assist with necessary updates to the building to welcome more children and provide a safe environment for them.
· A grant to support seven priests, five hieromonks, and eight religious sisters that serve the parishes near the war zone in Eastern Ukraine. The armed conflict periodically reaches into that region making it a dangerous place to live. The priests and religious have remained there to offer pastoral and humanitarian aid to those in need. This grant will provide food, medicine and transportation costs to support the priests and sisters as they offer pastoral care and humanitarian aid to the tens of thousands of internally displaced persons in the region.
"As a family of faith, we stand with those who work tirelessly to build the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, who continue to face the challenge of overcoming decades of political and religious oppression," said Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, "We look to those living in this region as an example of hope and perseverance and continue to support their efforts to renew their communities."
Other projects approved by the subcommittee include scholarships, church construction, outreach to the poor, and evangelization programs. Grants approved by the subcommittee support the Church in countries that were oppressed by communist rule.
Grants are funded by the annual Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. The national date for this collection is Ash Wednesday, although dioceses may take it up on different days. The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information about the collection and who it supports can be found at www.usccb.org/ccee.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Committee on National Collections,
Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Eastern Europe, Albania, Ukraine, Don Bosco Center, youth, evangelization, pastoral care, humanitarian
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WASHINGTON—In light of today's Senate Republican vote to address the healthcare law, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, is appealing to Senators on both sides to work together in the days ahead to advance changes that will serve the common good of all.
Bishop Dewane's full statement follows:
"In the wake of a procedural vote today that opens debate on the amendment process to reform the Affordable Care Act, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) calls on members from both political parties to work together to advance changes that serve the common good. The health care reform proposals currently under consideration would harm millions of struggling Americans by leaving too many at risk of losing adequate health coverage and continue to exclude too many people, including immigrants. We are grateful for the efforts to include protections for the unborn, however, any final bill must include full Hyde Amendment provisions and add much-needed conscience protections. The current proposals are simply unacceptable as written, and any attempts to repeal the ACA without a concurrent replacement is also unacceptable.
As was made clear in the USCCB's letter of July 20, there is much work to be done to remedy the ACA's shortcomings. We call on the Senate to make changes in all of the areas mentioned above. In addition, current and impending barriers to access and affordability under the ACA must be removed, particularly for those most in need. Such changes can be made with narrower reforms that do not jeopardize the access to health care that millions currently receive."
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Affordable Care Act (ACA), Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), procedural vote, Hyde Amendment, conscience rights, access, affordability, common good.
WASHINGTON—Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, has issued the following statement on San Antonio law enforcement's identification of a tractor trailer containing 39 people, including ten individuals who died due to heat exposure and asphyxiation.
Full statement follows:
My brother bishops and I are heartbroken by the news coming from San Antonio regarding individuals found dead in a crowded and overheated tractor trailer. I also note our continued concern and prayers for the several other individuals identified, including school-aged children, who are reported to have life-threatening injuries. The loss of lives is tragic and avoidable. We condemn this terrible human exploitation that occurred and continues to happen in our country. In a moment such as this, we reflect upon the words of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, "The defense of human beings knows no barriers: we are all united wanting to ensure a dignified life for every man, woman and child who is forced to abandon his or her own land."
We together mourn for the lives lost and offer our prayers for these individuals and their families.
Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, Committee on Migration, migrants, tragedy, exploitation, Pope Francis, human life, dignity
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WASHINGTON—In a letter to President Donald J. Trump, thirty-five Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious leaders agree that Israeli-Palestinian peace is possible. They believe, "based on the legitimate, long-standing aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for national self-determination and security, a two-state solution still represents the most realistic way to meet essential interests of both peoples and to resolve the conflict."
The letter includes the signatures of Bishop Oscar Cantú, of Las Cruses, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington.
The statement by Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders points to the fact that, "despite deep distrust on both sides, recent polls among Israelis and Palestinians show that the majority still yearn for two states." The leaders believe, "pursing either side's version of a one-state solution would likely lead to more years of violent conflict."
The leaders are encouraged that, building on years of official and informal negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, "the basic parameters of a framework for a two-state solution are widely known." And they say, "combined with a broader regional framework such as the Arab Peace Initiative, the incentives for all sides to make the historic decision for a two-state peace agreement are monumental."
They believe that "achieving a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians would have substantial positive effects for the people of Israel and Palestine, the region, the United States' own interests, and our world." The religious leaders are united in pledging their "support for US efforts to achieve this goal."
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, President, President Donald J. Trump, religious leaders, Israelis, Palestinians, two-state solution, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus, Washington, D.C., Arab Peace Initiative, conflict, peace.
WASHINGTON—In light of uncertainty about how the Senate will proceed on health care in the coming days, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Senate to fix problems with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a more narrow way, rather than repeal it without an adequate replacement.
"Before any legislation had been proposed, the bishops were clear that a repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act ought not be undertaken without the concurrent passage of a replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for the millions of people who now rely upon it for their wellbeing," wrote Dewane in the July 20 letter to the full Senate. "To end coverage for those who struggle every day without an adequate alternative in place would be devastating."
The Senate has been discussing various approaches for health care reform, including an ACA repeal approach that does not immediately decide upon a replacement plan. "The American Health Care Act legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives and the Better Care Reconciliation Act from the Senate were seriously flawed, and would have harmed those most in need in unacceptable ways. In the face of difficulties passing these proposals, the appropriate response is not to create greater uncertainty, especially for those who can bear it least, by repealing the ACA without a replacement.
Bishop Dewane urged Congress "to address the ACA's moral deficiencies and challenges with long-term sustainability" by "more narrow reforms, and in a bipartisan way." Included in this would be extending full Hyde Amendment protections to the ACA, enacting laws that protect the conscience rights of all stakeholders in health care, protecting religious freedom, and passing legislation that begins to address barriers to access and affordability for the poor. The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/letter-to-senate-on-affortable-care-act-2017-07-20.cfm
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Affordable Care Act, ACA, Better Care Reconciliation Act, BCRA., U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, health care reform, Hyde Amendment, conscience rights, religious freedom, affordability.
Young people across the nation were invited to create their own movements and gestures to the official youth and young adult song, Nuestra Alegría, for the V Encuentro. This challenge was launched as a means to encourage the participation of young Hispanic Catholics.
The V Encuentro process is a priority activity of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Strategic Plan for 2017-2020. The national event will take place in Grapevine, Texas, September 20-23, 2018.
"Young people are at the heart of the V Encuentro process. It is wonderful to see their creativity and love for Christ and the Church in joyful motion," said Bishop Nelson Pérez, Bishop designate of Cleveland and chair of the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs. "I look forward to follow along with the movements as we sing Nuestra Alegria in the diocesan and regional encuentros, and at the National Encuentro."
The V Encuentro is a four-year process of missionary activity, consultation, leadership development, and strengthening unity in the spirit of the New Evangelization. Its goal is to discern the ways in which the Church in the United States can better respond to the Hispanic/Latino presence and strengthen the ways in which Hispanics/Latinos respond to the call to the New Evangelization as missionary disciples serving the Church.
The first-place was awarded to St. Francis Borgia Deaf Center Youth Group in Chicago, whose members used sign language to express the lyrics of the song. As first-place winners they receive $1,000 and the honor of having the movements used in diocesan and regional Encuentros and at the national event.
Second place with a prize of $500 was awarded to Apóstoles De Ágape, St. John Neumann Catholic Church, Miami, Florida; and the third-place prize of $250 was given to River Valley Millenials, Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Alejandro Aguilera-Titus, V Encuentro National Coordinator affirmed, "We are very grateful to all the groups that submitted their videos. Their joy, enthusiasm and creativity are the young face of the church today. Congratulation to the winners."
Four other groups received honorable mention:
Voting for the Nuestra Alegría Viral Video Challenge took place from July 1-13, 2017 and a panel of judges from across the nation selected the winners after reviewing the videos on their 18 second submissions and evaluating that the movements and gestures reflected the meaning of the song. Catholics across the country also voted for their favorite groups via Facebook. Video submissions were very creative utilizing flags, drones, and banners. Some of the videos included children highlighting the importance of family to contestants.
All participants of the contest will receive a copy of the pocket book of the Gospels in September. Stories about the winners and other groups that participated in the challenge will be featured on the V Encuentro blog and social media accounts. All video submissions are available at: https://vencuentro.org/na-videos/.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, ENAVE, V Encuentro, Hispanic Catholics, Latino, Bishop Nelson Pérez, Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs, video, Strategic Plan, New Evangelization, Millennials
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WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development expressed concern over the proposed U.S. House of Representatives budget resolution, which was voted out of Committee late yesterday.
“The USCCB is closely monitoring the budget and appropriations process in Congress and is analyzing the proposed House budget resolution in more detail. It is clearly noted at the outset that the proposal assumes the harmful and unacceptable cuts to Medicaid from the American Health Care Act. Additionally, steady increases to military spending in the resolution are made possible by cutting critical resources for those in need over time, including potentially from important programs like SNAP that provide essential nutrition to millions of people. The bipartisan approach to discretionary spending in recent years, while imperfect, reflected a more balanced compromise given competing priorities.
A nation’s budget is a moral document. Reducing deficits through cuts for human needs—while simultaneously attempting a tax cut, as this proposal does—will place millions of poor and vulnerable people in real jeopardy. Congress should choose a better path, one that honors those struggling in our country.” Previous letters from the USCCB on the federal budget can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. House of Representatives, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, budget resolution, American Health Care Act, Medicaid, military spending, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), military spending, tax cuts, deficit, poor, vulnerable.
WASHINGTON— Over 750,000 youth have received protection from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) since its inception by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2012. While DACA provides no legal status, it does provide recipients with a temporary reprieve from deportation and employment authorization for legal work opportunities in the United States.
In response to the recent petition to the U.S. Department of Justice to terminate DACA, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Chair of the Migration Committee and Bishop of Austin, Texas, expressed support for DACA once again, stating:
"The Catholic Bishops have long supported DACA youth and continue to do so. DACA youth are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. These young people entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home. The dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children and youth, must be protected.
I urge the Administration to continue administering the DACA program and to publicly ensure that DACA youth are not priorities for deportation.
However, DACA is not a permanent solution; for this reason, I also call on Congress to work in an expeditious and bipartisan manner to find a legislative solution for DACA youth as soon as possible. My brother bishops and I pledge continuing efforts to help find a humane and permanent resolution that protects DACA youth. Additionally, I note the moral urgency for comprehensive immigration reform that is just and compassionate. The bishops will advocate for these reforms as we truly believe they will advance the common good.Lastly, to DACA youth and their families, please know that the Catholic Church stands in solidarity with you. We recognize your intrinsic value as children of God. We understand the anxiety and fear you face and we appreciate and applaud the daily contributions you make with your families, to local communities and parishes, and to our country. We support you on your journey to reach your God-given potential."
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Migration Committee, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Catholic bishops, economy, veterans, academia, human dignity, children, youth, families.
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with Bishop Oscar Cantú, of Las Cruces, Chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, of Springfield, Chair of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, have issued the following statement on today's attack in the Old City of Jerusalem. The deadly attack took place early this morning by the Lions' Gate in the Old City walls, next to what Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary and Jews call the Temple Mount.
Full statement follows:
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we condemn in the strongest possible terms today's attack in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a particular desecration to carry out armed attacks in and around sites holy to Muslims and Jews in a city that is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. We mourn for the lives lost and deplore the heightened tensions that such an attack can spawn. It was encouraging that both President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack. The path to peace, for which both Israelis and Palestinians yearn, cannot be paved with violence.
Daniel N. DiNardo
Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Rev. Oscar Cantú
Bishop of Las Cruces
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace
Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski
Bishop of Springfield
Chairman, Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Oscar Cantú, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, Old City Jerusalem, Temple Mount, Noble Sanctuary, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Mahmoud Abbas, Israelis, Palestinians, peace.
WASHINGTON—This week, U.S. refugee admissions reached the historically low cap of 50,000 refugees allowed to be resettled in the United States for Fiscal Year 2017, as set forth by the Administration's March 6th Executive Order 13780. Executive Order 13780 altered the initial Fiscal Year 2017 Presidential Determination which authorized the resettlement of 110,000 refugees into the United States. Currently there are approximately 22.5 million refugees seeking protection globally.
The following is a statement in response to the resettlement cap from Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration:
"I note with sadness that the new U.S. refugee admissions cap of 50,000 individuals has been reached this week. While certain refugees who have 'bona fide relationships' will still be allowed to arrive, I remain deeply concerned about the human consequences of this limitation and its impact on vulnerable refugees such as unaccompanied refugee children, elderly and infirm refugees, and religious minorities. Now, these vulnerable populations will not be able to access needed protection and will continue to face danger and exploitation. Pope Francis reminds us that 'refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity.' We must be mindful that every refugee is more than just a number, they are a child of God.
Looking forward, my brother bishops and I urge the Administration to allow 75,000 refugees to arrive to our country in the next fiscal year. As I stated in March 2017, in relation to this particular Executive Order, 'Resettling only 50,000 refugees a year, down from 110,000, does not reflect the need, our compassion, and our capacity as a nation.' We firmly believe that as a nation the United States has the good will, character, leadership, and resources to help more vulnerable people seek refuge. Most importantly, the Church will continue to serve and stand in solidarity with refugees, welcoming and accompanying them on their journey to protection and safety."
The full letter from March 17 can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-048.cfm
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, Committee on Migration, U.S. refugee admissions, Executive Order, Pope Francis, refugee resettlement, accompaniment.
WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, reacted strongly to the revised Senate health reform bill, the "Better Care Reconciliation Act" (BCRA).
"The USCCB is reviewing carefully the health care bill introduced by Senate leadership earlier today. On an initial read, we do not see enough improvement to change our assessment that the proposal is unacceptable. We recognize the incremental improvement in funding the fight against opioid addiction, for instance, but more is needed to honor our moral obligation to our brothers and sisters living in poverty and to ensure that essential protections for the unborn remain in the bill."
In an earlier letter concerning the draft of the BCRA that was introduced in draft format on June 22, 2017, Bishop Dewane had warned that, "[t]he BCRA's restructuring of Medicaid will adversely impact those already in deep health poverty. At a time when tax cuts that would seem to benefit the wealthy and increases in other areas of federal spending, such as defense, are being contemplated, placing a 'per capita cap' on medical coverage for the poor is unconscionable."
The full letter from June 27 can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/senate-discussion-letter-health-care-reform-2017-06-27.pdf
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Better Care Reconciliation Act, BCRA, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Affordable Care Act, respect for life, human dignity, health care, affordability, abortion, poverty, immigration, conscience.
WASHINGTON—In June, the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) distributed $25 million to 390 religious communities across the United States. The funding is provided by donations to the Retirement Fund for Religious collection. The annual, parish-based appeal is held in most U.S. Catholic parishes each December and benefits more than 32,000 elderly Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests. The most recent collection raised nearly $30.7 million and marked the second year in a row that contributions exceeded $30 million.
"We are overwhelmed by the generous support for senior religious and their communities," said Presentation Sister Stephanie Still, NRRO executive director. "We are equally moved by our donors' ongoing gratitude for the ministry of religious, past and present."
The funding disbursed the week of June 19 is known as Direct Care Assistance and represents the majority of financial assistance distributed by the NRRO. Religious communities combine this assistance with their own income and savings to help meet such day-to-day expenses as prescription medications and nursing care. Additional funding will be allocated through other NRRO programs in the coming months.
Catholic bishops of the U.S. launched the Retirement Fund for Religious in 1988 to address the significant lack of retirement funding among the nation's religious communities. Traditionally, Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests—known collectively as women and men religious—served for small stipends that did not include retirement benefits. Today, many religious communities lack adequate retirement savings.
Despite ongoing generosity to the annual appeal, hundreds of religious communities struggle to provide for older members. Recognizing the ongoing need, U.S. bishops voted to renew the collection, which was previously set to end this year.
The NRRO coordinates the annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection and distributes the proceeds to eligible religious communities. It also offers educational programming, services and resources that enable religious communities to evaluate and prepare for long-term retirement needs. The NRRO is sponsored by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
More information is available at www.retiredreligious.org.
Keywords: National Religious Retirement Office, NRRO, retirement, eldercare, U.S. bishops
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WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Nelson Perez, up until now Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, as the new bishop of Cleveland. Pope Francis has also named Father Andrew Bellisario as the new bishop of Juneau, Alaska.
The appointments were publicized in Washington, July 11,2017, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop Nelson Perez, Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, was born June 16, 1961, in Miami, Florida, and ordained a priest for the Philadelphia Archdiocese on May 20, 1989.
He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Montclair State University and master of divinity and master of arts degrees from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia. In 1998, he was named Chaplain to His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, with the title of Monsignor. In 2009, he was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope Benedict XVI.
Assignments after ordination included parochial vicar, St. Ambrose Parish, Philadelphia, (1989-1993); director of the Archdiocesan (Hispanic) Institute for Evangelization, (1993-2002); pastor, St. William Parish, Philadelphia, (2002-2009); and pastor, St. Agnes Parish, West Chester, Pennsylvania, (2009-2012). He also served as assistant director of the Archdiocesan Office for Hispanic Catholics, (1990-1993), and served on the archdiocesan Council of Priests, (2003-2005).
Bishop Perez is a current member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church and is also Chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs.
On June 8, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Perez an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Rockville Centre. He was ordained as bishop on July 25, 2012.Father Andrew Bellisario was born in Los Angeles on December 19, 1955. Father Bellisario is a member of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian Fathers and Brothers) founded by Saint Vincent de Paul in 1625.
Bishop-elect Bellisario began Vincentian novitiate studies in Santa Barbara in 1975 at St. Mary's Seminary and professed final vows at St. Mary's Seminary in Perryville, Missouri in 1978. He was ordained a priest in Los Angeles on June 16, 1984.
He earned a bachelor of arts degree from St. Mary's Seminary in Perryville in 1980 and later earned a master of divinity degree from DeAndreis Seminary in Lemont, Illinois in 1984.
Assignments after ordination included dean of students, St. Vincent's Seminary, Montebello, California (1984-1986); parochial vicar, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Montebello (1986-1989); administrator, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Montebello (1989-1990); pastor, St. Vincent DePaul Church, Huntington Beach (1990-1995); pastor, Sacred Heart Church, Patterson (1995-1998); provincial treasurer/consultor, DePaul Center Resident, Montebello ((1996-2002); Director, DePaul Evangelization Center, Montebello (1998-2002); superior, DePaul Center Residents, Montebello (2001-2002); provincial, Province Leadership, Montebello (2002-2010); director, Daughters of Charity, Los Altos (2003-2015); pastor, Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral, Anchorage (2014-present); superior, International Missions in Alaska (2015-present).
The diocese of Cleveland comprises 3,414 square miles and has a total population of approximately 2,774,113 people of which 682,948 or 24 percent. are Catholic.
The diocese of Juneau comprises 37,566 square miles and has a total population of approximately 75,000 people of which 10,000 or 13 percent, are Catholic.
Keywords: Pope Francis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, auxiliary bishop Nelson Perez, diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, Father Andrew Bellisario, diocese of Juneau, Alaska.
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WASHINGTON—A joint declaration issued today by U.S. and European Catholic bishops calls for all nations to work together to develop a "credible, verifiable and enforceable strategy for the total elimination of nuclear weapons."
Entitled "Nuclear Disarmament: Seeking Human Security," the declaration was issued to coincide with the conclusion of a meeting hosted this week by the United Nations "to negotiate a legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination." Although the United States and most European nations are not joining these negotiations, the Catholic bishops acknowledge, "[t]he fact that most of the world's nations are participating in this effort testifies to the urgency of their concern, an urgency intensified by the prospect of nuclear terrorism and proliferation, and to the inequality and dissatisfaction of non-nuclear states about the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament efforts."
Recognizing the need for national and international security, the bishops of the United States and Europe implore the leaders of their nations to work with other countries to promote peace through nuclear disarmament. "The indiscriminate and disproportionate nature of nuclear weapons, compel the world to move beyond nuclear deterrence," the declaration reads. "We call upon the United States and European nations to work with other nations to map out a credible, verifiable and enforceable strategy for the total elimination of nuclear weapons."
"The teaching of our Church – from the Catechism to Saint Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis – about the urgent need for nuclear disarmament is clear," said Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace. "It is time for us to heed this moral imperative and promote human security both within the United States and Europe, and globally."
The declaration is signed by Bishop Cantú and Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, President of European Justice and Peace Commissions.
The full text of the joint declaration is available at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/nuclear-weapons/nuclear-disarmament-seeking-human-security-2017-07-06.cfm or www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/nuclear-weapons/upload/Multilateral-Nuclear-Disarmament-July-6-2017.pdf
Keywords: nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament, United Nations, U.S. Catholic bishops, European Catholic bishops, Bishop Oscar Cantú, USCCB, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Catechism, Pope Francis
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WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Luis Zarama, auxiliary bishop of Atlanta as Bishop of Raleigh, North Carolina.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, July 5, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop-designate Zarama was born November 28, 1958, in Pasto, Colombia. He holds degrees in philosophy and theology from the Marian University in Pasto, and a degree in Canon Law from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1993. He served as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Atlanta; he then served as a member of the Vocations Committee. Bishop Zarama was named vicar general of the Archdiocese in April of 2006 and in 2008 he was appointed to serve as the judicial vicar for the Archdiocese's Metropolitan Tribunal. He is also a member of the Archdiocesan Personnel Review Board. He was named auxiliary bishop of Atlanta on July 27, 2009.
As a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), he is currently an alternate member for region XIV of the Administrative Committee.
The Diocese of Raleigh comprises 32,000 square miles and it has total population of 4,874,815 people of which 231,230 are Catholic.
Keywords: bishop appointment, Pope Francis, Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, Bishop Luis Zarama, Archbishop of Atlanta, Diocese of Raleigh
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A major Hollywood film, a play, several documentaries, three museum exhibits and a host of public forums mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 civil disorder in Detroit this summer.
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.
Little Rock, Ark., Aug 19, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Arkansas may block tens of thousands of dollars in Medicaid funding from going to Planned Parenthood, a panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has said.
“All patients should have access to ethical, quality and responsible health care, and should never be beholden to a company that is only seeking to protect its profits,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in response to the decision, the Associated Press reports.
According to Rutledge, the Aug. 16 ruling found that Planned Parenthood and the three patients could not contest the state's determination “that a medical provider has engaged in misconduct that merits disqualification from the Medicaid program.”
The 2-1 panel ruling comes two years after the state ended its contract with the organization over videos filmed by undercover investigators that appeared to show involvement in the illegal sale of fetal tissue for profit.
While federal law bars federal funding for most abortions, and Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the U.S., the organization receives federal money for other services.
In Arkansas, in the fiscal year before the contract was terminated, Planned Parenthood had received $51,000 in Medicaid funds. The organization runs health centers in Fayetteville and Little Rock.
The ruling said that the unnamed patients who filed the legal challenge to the defunding decision did not have the right to file a challenge. It did not directly address the state’s reasoning for terminating the contract. The ruling vacated a U.S. district judge’s order that continued payments to Planned Parenthood patients.
Judge Michael Melloy authored a dissenting opinion in the ruling, noting that several federal courts have blocked other states’ efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. He said the patients have a right to challenge the contract termination.
The case could go to the Supreme Court. Planned Parenthood said it is evaluating its options to challenge the ruling, which will take effect in one to two weeks.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson had ended the contract on the grounds he believed there was evidence of wrongful conduct.
He called Wednesday’s decision “a substantial legal victory for the right of the state to determine whether Medicaid providers are acting in accordance with best practices.” The ruling also affirmed the state’s prerogative to make judgments on the Medicaid program, he added.
Videos from the Center for Medical Progress appeared to show Planned Parenthood and other leaders in the abortion industry involved in the procurement of fetal tissue and unborn babies’ bodies for sale, which is illegal under federal law.
The videos energized abortion foes' push to defund Planned Parenthood. For its part, the abortion provider and its allies dedicated millions of dollars in a campaign to counter the videos' impact and charged that the videos had been heavily edited.
San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug 18, 2017 / 03:14 pm (CNA).- Sports fans in the U.S. and beyond may be disappointed to learn that reports of baseball Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente being recently beatified by Pope Francis are nothing more than fake news.
Vatican officials confirmed to the Washington Post that rumors of Pope Francis beatifying the Pittsburgh Pirates star are false.
The rumors appear to have originated with a Christian News Wire post late last month, and were slowly picked up by other media outlets and social media accounts.
The Christian News Wire article quotes Richard Rossi, who has been pushing for Clemente’s canonization after directing a film about the baseball star’s life, entitled “Baseball’s Last Hero.”
At the center of the claims is former Olympian high jumper Jamie Nieto, who played Clemente in the film. Nieto broke his neck in a back flip accident in 2016, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. After months of rehab, he was able to walk about 130 steps down the aisle with his bride on his wedding day.
According to the article, Rossi claimed that he had foreseen the healing in a vision, and had written to Pope Francis about it, and that the Pope agreed to beatify Clemente if the healing were to take place. Normally, one Vatican-approved miracle is necessary for beatification, and a second miracle is necessary for canonization, when the Church officially recognizes someone as a saint.
But while enthusiastic fans may be willing to take Rossi’s alleged claims at face value, the Vatican follows a very specific, formal process in determining the validity of an alleged miracle, with a commission of theologians and scientific experts examining the facts of the case.
When it comes to medical miracles, the Vatican must determine that the healing could not possibly have had any therapeutic or natural explanation, in order to ensure that the healing could only be attributed to divine intervention.
In Nieto’s case, however, doctors said there was a small possibility that he would be able to walk again, and he then spent months in rehab, working toward that goal.
The Vatican also must confirm that the healed person prayed exclusively to the potential saint in question, thereby determining that it was that individual’s intercession before God that resulted in the miraculous healing.
However, in the AP story detailing Nieto’s steps down the aisle for his wedding, the former Olympian does not mention praying to Clemente at all, instead saying, “I’ve worked really hard to get to this point.”
This is not the first time that false rumors have circulated regarding Clemente’s sainthood status. In early 2015, Catholic News Wire claimed that his canonization cause had received a “papal message of support.”
The article included a photo of a letter that it claimed was a show of support from Pope Francis for Clemente’s canonization cause.
However, the letter was in fact from an official at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and did not convey a papal message of support, but rather instructed Rossi that the local bishop, not the Pope, is the correct person to contact about potentially opening a canonization cause.
Translated into English, it reads:
“Distinguished Mr. Rossi, Recently you addressed a letter to Pope Francis calling attention to the figure of Roberto Clemente. Given the specific competence of this congregation, this letter was sent to this dicastery. In this regard, I wish to inform you that the competent authority to introduce a cause of beatification is the bishop where the person has died. Hence you would have to address your request to the Bishop of San Juan in Puerto Rico. Wishing you God's blessing, Fr. Boguslaw Turek.”
Clemente, a devout Catholic, was known for both his immense talent on the ballfield and his extensive charitable efforts. He died in a 1972 plane crash on his way to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was 38 years old at the time of his death.
With a legacy marked by his Catholic faith and humanitarian work, it is possible that the legendary right fielder could have his canonization cause opened. But the process would be lengthy, and each official step would be announced through authorized Church channels.
A beatification of the baseball star would undoubtedly be a highly anticipated event, especially on the largely Catholic island of Puerto Rico, where Clemente grew up. Sports fans can rest assured that should such a high-profile beatification occur, an official announcement would be made with enough notice for them to follow along, or even attend the historic event.
Richmond, Va., Aug 18, 2017 / 10:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo of Richmond has passed away at the age of 75.
“Please pray for the repose of the soul of Bishop DiLorenzo, for his family and friends, and for the people of the Diocese of Richmond,” said the Richmond diocese’s vicar general, Monsignor Mark Lane.
“He was a faithful servant of the Church for 49 years and a Shepherd of the Diocese of Richmond for 13 years.”
In the neighboring Diocese of Arlington, Bishop Michael Burbidge also called for prayers.
“May we be united in our prayer for Bishop Francis DiLorenzo, Bishop of Richmond, and his eternal peace,” the bishop said on Twitter.
Bishop DiLorenzo passed away at St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond on Thursday evening.
Bishop DiLorenzo was born in Philadelphia on April 15, 1942, the eldest of three children, his biography on the Richmond diocese’s website says. After studying at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia ordained him to the priesthood in May 1968. His service in the Philadelphia archdiocese included positions as high school chaplain and religion and biology teacher.
He began studies in Rome in 1971, earning a license in sacred theology from the Academy Alphonsiana in 1973 and a doctorate in sacred theology in 1975 from the Angelicum. Upon his return to the U.S., Father DiLorenzo was appointed chaplain and associate professor of moral theology at Immaculata College in Pennsylvania. He then served as vice-rector and rector at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
Pope John Paul II appointed him auxiliary bishop of Scranton, Penn. in 1988, where he served for five years. After becoming apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Honolulu, he became Bishop of Honolulu in October 1994. He was installed as Bishop of Richmond in 2004.
His work at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops include membership of its administrative committee its doctrine committee, and its ad hoc committee on bishops’ life and ministry. He was chairman of the conference’s Committee on Science and Human Values. He helped launch a series of teaching brochures on the relationship of science and religion and on bioethical issues like genetic testing and screening of embryos.
He had submitted his resignation upon reaching age 75, in accord with canon law.
There are about 220,000 Catholics in the Richmond diocese.
Denver, Colo., Aug 18, 2017 / 06:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) has announced that it will expand to 15 new campuses for the 2017-2018 school year.
This brings the total number of campuses with a FOCUS presence up to 137.
“I firmly believe God has called me to share this great joy He has given me through this experience to others, and I am absolutely delighted to now be able to do that through FOCUS!” said Natalie Larkins, a first-year FOCUS missionary at Western Kentucky, in a press release.
The new campuses for the upcoming academic year are Bowling Green State University (Ohio), Indiana University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Louisiana State University, Slippery Rock University (Pennsylvania), University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Rochester (New York), University of Southampton (England), University of Southern Mississippi, University of Toledo (Ohio), Valparaiso University (Indiana), West Chester University (Pennsylvania), Western Kentucky University, and Western Michigan University.
A campus outreach ministry, FOCUS works to inspire and equip college students to know, love and share their faith through intentional virtue-based friendships.
Missionaries stationed at campuses throughout the country and internationally invite students to grow in their faith through Bible studies, small groups, events, mission trips, and one-on-one discipleships.
FOCUS has more than doubled its campus presence since 2011.
The organization is hoping to again double the number of campuses it serves within the next five years, with a goal of reaching 250 FOCUS campuses by 2022.
Washington D.C., Aug 17, 2017 / 08:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As political tensions increase between the United States and North Korea, one pro-life group began a petition urging nuclear disarmament around the world.
Rehumanize International is asking pro-life advocates to join them in the fight against nuclear arms by signing a letter directed to President Donald Trump and attending an anti-nuclear weapons march outside the White House on Sept. 9.
“And with many pro-lifers around the world who understand that nuclear weapons can never be tools of a Just War, we call on the Trump administration and the governments of all nuclear-wielding nations to dismantle and destroy their nuclear arms!” read the letter, which was posted on Change.org Aug. 11.
Concern over nuclear warfare has recently escalated as North Korea has refused to halt its reported efforts for increased nuclear power as well as intercontinental missiles capable of reaching the U.S.
Among many smaller ballistic missile tests this year, North Korea last month tested its second intercontinental missile since the country was established, inciting the U.S. to increase economic sanctions against it.
Last week, North Korea mentioned the possibility of targeting U.S. territory Guam, but as of Aug. 16 the country's main news agency said the plans have been paused.
Linking pro-life support to anti-nuclear arms advocacy, the letter begins by stating that nuclear war is opposed to human dignity and demands that more responsibility be taken to end it.
“As supporters of the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings from conception to natural death, and the intrinsic right to life of every member of our human family, we call for an end to nuclear warfare,” the letter read.
“We demand that our executive branch of government be more accountable for our existing nuclear arsenal and sign on to the U.N. treaty for nuclear disarmament.”
The U.N.'s 1968 Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons required its signatories to refrain from acquiring nuclear arms, besides the five countries who had attained them before 1967, including the U.S., the U.K., France, China, and Russia. The treaty went into effect in 1970, and was renewed indefinitely in 1995.
The letter is currently open for signatures which can be done electronically on Change.org. They will then be sent to President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence as well as French, British, and United Nation leaders. Among other organizations, the American Solidarity Party and Feminists for Nonviolent Choices have both expressed support for the petition as well as the upcoming march.
“We will join together as powerful pro-life voices who work tirelessly to build a culture of life,” Ruhimanize executive director Aimee Murphy said in an Aug. 17 statement, “as we call on our government to make the truly pro-life policy declaration to condemn the usage of nuclear weapons, no matter who wields them.”
Hagatna, Guam, Aug 17, 2017 / 05:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In the face of North Korea’s threats to bomb the island of Guam, the Catholic faithful have gathered in parishes across the US territory to pray for eased tensions between the two nations.
With more than 80 percent of Guam’s 162,000 population identifying as Catholic, large groups of clergy, religious, and lay persons gathered to offer Mass, rosaries, and other prayers for relief to the pressure between the United States and North Korea.
The world has seen tensions rise between the U.S. and North Korea in recent years, continuing to test ballistic missiles and develop its nuclear options, facing opposition from the world’s leaders and even recent sanctions from the United Nations.
The coadjutor archbishop of Agaña asked the clergy of the country’s 26 churches to promote peace and offer prayers during Sunday Mass on August 13.
“In your Masses this Sunday, especially in the prayer of the faithful, please offer prayers for peace between our nations, just resolution of differences, and prudence in both speech and action,” said Archbishop Michael Byrnes in an August 11 statement.
Additionally, hundreds of parishioners responded to an invitation by the Archdiocese of Agaña to pray a rosary at the old Spanish government palace, and rallies commemorating the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima took place all across the country.
Guam has faced threats before, but the recent round are particularly intense and explicit. However, priests and lay leaders say prayer brings comfort and hope, recognizing that God is in control of the situation.
The Gospel messages “tell our people that God is in control of what is happening and if we have faith and believe in God all this rhetoric and war possibility here on Guam will be taken care of by God,” said Monte Mesa, vice-chairman of the Guam Visitors Bureau, according to ABC News.
North Korea has been aiming to lengthen their missile range, in what many political leaders have speculated is in ultimate attempt to reach U.S. soil. Last month, the country tested its second intercontinental ballistic missile, leading the U.S. to call for additional economic sanctions.
In response to President Donald Trump’s threat to “bring fire and the fury” if tests continue to pose a risk to American safety, Pyongyang said via an August 9 statement by the Korean Central News Agency that they were “examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam.”
Some 3,000 miles from North Korea, on the southern end of the Mariana Islands, the 210-square mile piece of land is a strategic presence for the U.S., due to its proximity to Asia. Guam has a large number of bases, housing around 7,000 U.S. service members, as well as aircraft carriers, which were a significant force during the Vietnam War.
In an August 16 statement, KCNA said the country is pausing the potential attack on Guam while continuing to monitor U.S behavior. United States officials have still expressed concern.
Washington D.C., Aug 17, 2017 / 03:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Lawyers for Planned Parenthood investigator David Daleiden claimed a victory on Wednesday as the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court sent back a lower court's ruling against him.
“The Court of Appeals, by reversing this decision and remanding this case back to District Court, has prevented a serious threat to the public's right to know how their tax dollars are being spent,” said Peter Breen, special counsel for the Thomas More Society who argued the appeal for Daleiden.
David Daleiden is the project lead at the Center for Medical Progress, the group that released undercover videos of conversations with Planned Parenthood officials and others in the abortion industry, as well as interviews of a former clinician for a tissue harvester.
The videos claimed to report on the transfer of fetal tissue of aborted babies from clinics to tissue harvesters for research purposes.
Daleiden and other citizen journalists created a fake medical supply company company and adopted fake identifications to pose as representatives of a fetal tissue procurement company looking to possibly do business with Planned Parenthood clinics. They discussed possible prices for fetal tissue of aborted babies.
Compensation for fetal tissue of aborted babies that is used for research is allowed under federal law for, provided the amount of compensation is not for “valuable consideration” and is “reasonable,” to cover operating expenses like storage and transfer.
In the particular case decided on Monday, Daleiden had requested to view records from the University of Washington’s acquisition and use of fetal tissue of aborted babies for research in their Birth Defects Research Laboratory.
According to his lawyers, Daleiden requested that the names and personal contact information of persons in the records not be made public, but the university sued to block even more information like the job titles and departments from being made public.
“The government employees and the abortion personnel are seeking to force heavy redactions in public documents about their work procuring, processing, and transferring the organs and tissue of aborted human fetuses, in connection with the school’s taxpayer-funded Birth Defects Research Laboratory,” the Thomas More Society stated.
“Such heavy redactions render these public documents useless for investigative purposes,” the group said of the additional requested redactions.
A district court ruled in the university’s favor, issuing an injunction on the additional information being made public. Daleiden’s lawyers appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Monday, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit unanimously ordered the lower court to explain further why it had allowed censorship of the public records.
The “Doe Plaintiffs” – or the persons whose information was contained in the records – would have to prove both that they “were engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment” and that they faced a “reasonable probability” of harm which could threaten their First Amendment rights, due to backlash once the records were made public, the court said.
The Ninth Circuit kept in place a temporary injunction on release of the information, to allow the district court time to find if the plaintiffs’ claims met the standards for the information to be censored.
“We remand for the district court to address how disclosure of specific information would violate the constitutional or statutory rights of particular individuals or groups of individuals,” the ruling said.
Orange, Calif., Aug 16, 2017 / 02:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Moral theologian and cultural analyst Dr. Pia de Solenni has been appointed chancellor for the Diocese of Orange in California, effective Aug. 28.
“Pia is an inspirational and well-respected theologian and has proven herself a thoughtful and humble leader within our Church,” said Bishop Kevin Vann in a statement announcing the appointment.
“We are blessed as a Diocese to benefit from her expertise, passion, and faith. I look forward to the many gifts that she will continue to bring to bear in service to the people of Orange.”
As chancellor – the diocese’s highest senior lay position – de Solenni will be the head administrator and secretary of the Curia, official archivist and record keeper, and aid in protecting the integrity of the faith. She will help support the administrative and ministry efforts of the bishop, and will advise the bishop on various writings and questions involving doctrine and dogma affecting the Church’s local work.
Currently, de Solenni serves as a theological consultant to the Office of the Bishop, as well as associate dean of the Augustine Institute’s satellite campus at the Christ Cathedral in Orange. She holds a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome.
An expert on moral issues pertaining to bioethics, culture, and women’s issues, she has given commentary for CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, as well as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press, among others.
With more than 1.3 million Catholics, the Diocese of Orange is the 12th largest diocese in the United States.
“It is a tremendous honor to serve the Diocese of Orange as Chancellor. I am very grateful to Bishop Vann for his confidence in me and for giving me this opportunity,” de Solenni said.
Los Angeles, Calif., Aug 16, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The 100th birthday of Blessed Oscar Romero was a time for Los Angelenos to reflect on the martyred Salvadoran bishop's virtues and how his vision can be made a reality today.
“One hundred years after his birth, Blessed Oscar Romero still inspires us for his humility and courage – for his love for the poor and his witness of solidarity and service to others, even to the point of laying down his life,” Archbishop Jose Gomez said at an Aug. 13 Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral marking the centenary of Romero’s birth.
“Our brother, Blessed Oscar, had a vision for a new society – the society that God wants – a society in which God’s gifts are shared by everyone, and not only the few,” he continued. “We want to carry that vision forward in our own times, and in our own society.”
Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, El Salvador was born Aug. 15, 1917.
Amid El Salvador’s bloody civil war, the archbishop preached the importance of Christian love. At a time when government-aligned death squads would kill and abduct opponents of the government, he was a strong critic of government violence against the poor, human rights violations, and corruption, despite many death threats.
He was assassinated March 24, 1980 while celebrating Mass in a hospital chapel in San Salvador. Right-wing death squads are suspected in his death.
Pope Francis declared Archbishop Romero a martyr in February 2015, then beatified him in May 2015.
There were three relics of the slain archbishop at the Mass in Los Angeles: the microphone he used to celebrate Mass at the San Salvador cathedral; an autographed photograph he gave to a woman religious who assisted him and was present the day he was murdered; and a piece of cloth with his blood from the day he was assassinated. Many Salvadorans were in attendance.
Archbishop Gomez told the congregation: “we want to ask this great saint to help all of us to live with new faith, new hope and new love.”
“We ask him to intercede for us – to give us courage to continue his project, his ‘revolution of love’,” the archbishop continued, saying that Romero “walked in the company of Jesus and in the company of his people.” He served his people “with a pastor’s love, with a father’s love”
“God gives each of us a mission. It is not just for bishops, like Monseñor Romero,” said the Los Angeles archbishop. “Each one of us, in our own way, is called to build the Kingdom of God.”
Archbishop Gomez cited Romero’s own words: “Let each one of you, in your own vocation – nun, married person, bishop, priest, high-school or university student, workman, laborer, market woman – each one in your own place live the faith intensely and feel that in your surroundings you are a true microphone of God.”
The archbishop emphasized the need for “total confidence in God” despite times of troubles and trials, as in the Gospels when the apostles were at sea in a powerful storm. Even when they saw Jesus approaching on the water, they think he is a ghost.
“We can get anxious about our future or worrying about the things in our lives, that we can think that God is not there for us. But he is,” said Archbishop Gomez. St. Peter was fine as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, but began to sink when he thought about his human limitations and the storms around him.
Despite the struggles and challenges Romero faced, he kept his eyes on Jesus Christ.
“Let us carry the Gospel message of love and mercy, truth and justice into every corner of our world,” said the archbishop. He invoked the patron of El Salvador, Our Lady of Peace, asking that she guide her children “to know the freedom, justice and peace that Blessed Oscar Romero gave his life for.”
The archbishop voiced prayers for those in El Salvador who suffer violence, and those who live in poverty throughout Central America and Latin America, especially for those in Venezuela.
Washington D.C., Aug 15, 2017 / 04:57 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Religious freedom advocates were heartened by the State Department recognizing in its annual religious freedom report released Tuesday the genocide of Christians by the Islamic State.
“As we make progress in defeating ISIS and denying them their caliphate, their terrorist members have and continue to target multiple religions and ethnic groups for rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and even death,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated at the Aug. 15 release of the 2016 International Religious Freedom report.
“Application of the law to the facts at hand leads to the conclusion ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in areas it controls or has controlled,” he said. “ISIS is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups, and in some cases against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.”
The annual State Department report is mandated by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, which created the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department and worked to make promoting religious freedom a part of U.S. foreign policy.
The 2016 report makes explicit reference to the “genocide” of Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims at the hands of the Islamic State, or “Daesh.” Then-Secretary of State John Kerry had said in March of 2016 that “in my judgement, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims.”
In 2014, Islamic State militants conquered large areas of territory in Iraq and Syria, forcing religious and ethnic minorities in the region to stay and convert to Islam, leave, or die.
Reports documented that Islamic State committed mass killings of Christians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims, and others, as well as enslaving women and children. The Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians partnered to release a massive report documenting Islamic State atrocities committed against Christians.
As Islamic State has been driven from towns in northern Iraq, the inhabitants have returned to find their homes vandalized and their churches desecrated or destroyed.
“America’s promotion of international religious freedom demands standing up for the rights of the world’s most vulnerable populations,” the preface to the State Department’s report stated.
Tillerson added that in addition to Christians being targeted for genocide in Iraq and Syria, they have also been targeted by Islamic State militants in Egypt.
“The protection of these groups – and others subject to violent extremism – is a human rights priority for the Trump administration,” he said.
Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., welcomed Tillerson’s statement as an even more forceful pronouncement of genocide than was made by the previous administration.
Tillerson, Shea said, “forcefully clarified that ISIS has the ‘specific intent’ of destroying the Christian community, along with the other two minorities.”
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the author of the update to the original International Religious Freedom Act, also praised Tillerson for specifically recognizing the atrocities committed against minorities under Islamic State.
“I want to commend Secretary Tillerson for focusing on those who have been victims of genocide,” he said. “These groups are looking for help and leadership, and I am proud that after eight years of denial and foot dragging, this report positions the United States to become a world leader in helping those who need it most.”
Tillerson, in his remarks unveiling the report on Tuesday, also focused on the persecution of minorities in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, Pakistan, Sudan, and Bahrain.
In Iran, for instance, 20 persons were executed by the state in 2016 for apostasy charges including “waging war against God,” he said. Baha'i leaders are still imprisoned for their religious beliefs in the country, where the state religion is Ja’afari Shia Islam.
In Turkey, religious minorities have seen their rights infringed upon by the government, which has also imprisoned Pastor Andrew Brunson who should be released, Tillerson said.
“Turkey continues to unjustly imprison Dr. Andrew Brunson without charges, and I appreciate Secretary Tillerson reminding the world of this. It is important for America to be clear about the human rights abuses happening around the world,” Sen. Lankford (R-Okla.) said.
Tillerson also named Saudi Arabia as a violator of human rights and religious freedom, as punishments like prison and lashings are given to persons for charges of apostasy, atheism, blasphemy, and insulting the state’s interpretation of Islam.
“We urge Saudi Arabia to embrace greater degrees of religious freedom for all of its citizens,” Tillerson stated to the U.S. ally.
China is another well-known human rights violator, torturing and detaining thousands of citizens for their religious beliefs, including Uyghur Muslims and the members of Falun Gong, Tillerson said.
However, the secretary did not also mention that Christians are persecuted by the government there. State-sanctioned destruction of churches, or removing crosses from churches, has become commonplace in some provinces, and state officials have hampered parents from bringing their children to church.
In addition, the Vatican and the Chinese government have been working on an agreement on the appointment of bishops in the state-sanctioned Church, although critics like Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Archbishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, say the atheistic government will continue to meddle in the elections of bishops.
Smith said the report “rightly shows that China’s religious freedom conditions are among the world’s worst.”
“The Chinese government is an equal opportunity abuser of the rights of Protestants, Catholics, Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims and Falun Gong practitioners – all who face imprisonment and torture for practicing their faith,” he said.
Calling the report “a step in the right direction,” he also commended the reporting on other countries, such as Vietnam, Pakistan, Nigeria. and Syria, “with individuals who simply want to worship in peace being beaten, jailed, tortured or worse.”
“The more difficult step will be to place these countries or non-state actors like ISIS and Boko Haram on the U.S. blacklist of severe religious freedom violators,” he said.
This would include updating the “Countries of Particular Concern” list, which is comprised of countries the State Department deems where the worst violations of religious freedom are taking place and the government is either the instigator, actively complicit, or is powerless to stop the abuses.
The creation of the list was mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act as a way to hold violators of religious freedom accountable. Actions can be legally taken against such countries if the State Department places them on the CPC list, like imposing sanctions.
With the rise of non-state terror groups like Islamic State and Boko Haram, Smith’s bill created the “Entities of Particular Concern” designation for violators of religious freedom that are not themselves states and who are active in multiple countries.
The State Department currently has designated China, Burma, Eritrea, North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan as CPCs.
Pakistan does not occupy a place on the list despite leading the world in the number of prison sentences for blasphemy, which can carry a death sentence.
Also, Tillerson did not mention Russia in his remarks, despite the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan federal commission that advises the State Department, asking that it be added to the CPC list as one of the worst violators of religious freedom.
In its annual report earlier this year, the commission pointed to the criminalization of certain non-sanctioned religious beliefs in the Russian mainland, and the treatment of minorities in the Russia-occupied Crimean Peninsula as serious abuses that merited Russia’s place on the CPC list. Recently, Russia’s supreme court rejected an appeal of the outlawing of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country.
Religious freedom advocates applauded the Trump administration’s selection earlier this summer of an Ambassador at-Large for International Religious Freedom, who is charged with monitoring abuses of freedom of religion abroad and promoting religious freedom as part of U.S. foreign policy.
President Donald Trump nominated Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a former U.S. Senator, for the position. Lankford expressed his desire that Brownback be confirmed for the position soon.
Charlottesville, Va., Aug 15, 2017 / 02:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia involving white supremacy groups and counter-protesters, the father of the woman who was killed after the rally spoke out against hatred and offered a different message: forgiveness and love.
“I just think about what the Lord said on the cross, 'Forgive them. They don't know what they're doing,'” Mark Heyer said Monday, according to USA Today.
“I include myself in that in forgiving the guy who did this,” he said.
Mark Heyer is the father of Heather Heyer, the 32 year-old woman who was fatally hit by a car after the “Unite the Right” rally near the University of Virginia on Saturday. The rally drew white supremacists including neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, who were protesting the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in the park downtown.
Heather was among the group of counter-protesters who were standing against the Unite the Right rally, which also included various religious leaders and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Heather grew up near Charlottesville and was a paralegal at Miller Law Group. The law firm called Heather an “irreplaceable asset,” and noted her “big heart for people.” She was known in her community for standing up for the marginalized in society.
“She was a strong woman who had passionate opinions about the equality of everyone, and she tried to stand up for that,” her father said.
“With her, it wasn’t lip service. It was real… it was something that she wanted to share with everyone,” he continued, saying “she had more courage than I did.”
Heather’s mother, Susan Bro, also noted her daughter’s passion for others, saying that “it was important to her to speak up for people who were not being heard.”
The driver of the car that hit Heather is 20-year old James Alex Fields, who is now facing multiple charges including a hit and run, second-degree murder, and counts of malicious wounding. He drove his car into several other cars while crowds of people were crossing the streets after the rally, injuring dozens of people. A total of 19 victims were hospitalized.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice issued a joint statement on Sunday, condemning the “evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”
They also prayed for Heather, and two other victims who were Virginia State troopers, saying “let us especially remember those who lost their lives. Let us join their witness and stand against every form of oppression.”
While devastated with the loss of his daughter, Mark Heyer hopes that her death will cause bigger waves of change.
“I hope that her life and what has transpired changes people's hearts.”
Austin, Texas, Aug 15, 2017 / 02:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A new law in Texas removes elective abortion coverage from the standard package of health insurance benefits offered in many plans, a move that pro-life advocates hailed as a victory for those who do not want to subsidize abortion.
“As a firm believer in Texas values I am proud to sign legislation that ensures no Texan is ever required to pay for a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child,” said Governor Greg Abbott upon signing House Bill 214 into law on Tuesday.
“This bill prohibits insurance providers from forcing Texas policy holders to subsidize elective abortions. I am grateful to the Texas legislature for getting this bill to my desk, and working to protect innocent life this special session.”
Under the new law, elective abortions will not be covered in standard private or state employee health insurance plans, nor in public plans subsidized by the Affordable Care Act.
Abortions deemed to be necessary in cases of medical emergency will still be covered in standard plans, and optional separate coverage for elective abortions may be purchased by those who are interested.
“This isn’t about who can get an abortion. It is about who is forced to pay for an abortion,” said Rep. John Smithee, lead author of the bill.
The law was signed during a special legislative session. It had been approved by the House in a 95-51 vote last week, and by the Senate in a 20-10 vote on Sunday.
More than half of U.S. states limit coverage of abortion under the Affordable Care Act.
Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, denounced the law, saying it will negatively impact women who “need” abortions.
Another bill signed into law by Abbott on Tuesday requires doctors and health care offices to report additional details about abortion complications.
State Sen. Donna Campbell said during a debate on the legislation last month that “collecting this data is important to guarantee best medical practices.”
Indianapolis, Ind., Aug 15, 2017 / 06:04 am (National Catholic Register).- Medication abortions are on their way to becoming the dominant method of abortion in the U.S. But lawmakers are starting to look at whether to change their state’s informed-consent laws to let women know of an experimental treatment that could possibly reverse the effects of a progesterone-blocking abortion.
Indiana state Rep. Ronald Bacon, (R-Chandler), told the National Catholic Register that he heard about the “abortion-pill reversal” technique during a presentation by Fort Wayne obstetrician-gynecologist Christina Francis. Bacon, who is Catholic, thought that women contemplating abortion, or who have taken mifepristone – the first pill in the two-pill RU-486 abortion process – should at least know the possibility existed.
In the event they wanted to reconsider their choice for abortion, Bacon said they should know about this possibility and who they should contact from the information packet that abortion doctors are required to give their patients.
“We should at least try to give women as much information as possible,” he said.
Bacon’s legislation passed Indiana’s House of Representatives Feb. 27 on a 54-41 vote, but never made it through the state senate. Other pro-life lawmakers balked at the law, citing the need for more studies.
Still, Bacon said the media coverage of the debate did create awareness.
“I felt at least the word got out there,” he said.
Rapidly Changing Industry
First-trimester abortion accounts for 91 percent of all abortions performed in the U.S. But RU-486 medication abortions account for nearly a third of all abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute. That figure is rising, and in some states, RU-486 accounts for half of all abortions.
In Scandinavian countries, that future has already arrived: Medication abortions account for 96 percent of abortions in Finland, 91 percent in Sweden and 86 percent in Norway.
Mifepristone is the first drug taken in the two-step RU-486 chemical abortion regimen. The first pill (also known as Mifeprex) blocks the hormone progesterone from bonding to the uterine wall, causing it to shed, killing the embryo by literally starving it to death. Approximately 24-48 hours later, a second pill called misoprostol (commercially known as Cytotec) is ingested to expel the deceased unborn child with the other contents of the uterus.
However, Dr. George Delgado, medical director of Culture of Life Family Services in San Diego, California, that runs the AbortionPillReversal.com program and its 24/7 hotline, has developed protocols designed to block the effects of mifepristone by flooding a woman’s body with progesterone, ideally within 72 hours of taking the abortion pill. The concept involves overwhelming Mifeprex with progesterone in order to save the uterine lining and allow women to exercise their choice to continue their pregnancies.
Delgado said he is in the process of submitting an article for publication to a peer-reviewed medical journal that “will describe over 200 cases of successful reversals.”
The article will build on another study published in the spring 2017 edition of Issues in Law and Medicine by his colleague Dr. Mary Davenport, which reviews studies on women who took mifepristone alone for abortion. The review, he said found the embryo survival rate to be between 8 and 25 percent.
Delgado said that upper limit of 25 percent will form the “historical control group” for comparing the embryo survival rates from their best progesterone-treatment protocols, which their data puts in the range of 60-70 percent.
“It does make a difference if a woman who changes her mind undergoes our reversal protocols,” he said.
Many pro-life physicians and pro-life health centers across the country have now made abortion-pill reversal a treatment option to women.
Kathleen Eaton Bravo, founder of the Obria Medical Clinics and president of the Obria Foundation, told the National Catholic Register that Obria provides the progesterone treatment to women who request it. She said that as Obria’s telemedicine platform expands in more states, it will provide another mechanism for women searching for help after taking the first abortion pill.
“We have a much better opportunity to save lives this way,” she said. Bravo, who is a post-abortive mother, said when she had time to reflect on her surgical abortion decades ago, it was too late to do anything to save her child. But the woman who takes mifepristone in a doctor’s office actually has time in the privacy of her home to consider whether she really wants to go through with abortion before taking the second pill. At that point, she said, a woman who changes her mind and wants to keep her baby will turn to her smartphone and start searching for help.
“We have a much larger window of opportunity to save this child’s life if we can reach them through their smartphones,” Bravo said. “This is a much bigger opportunity to save lives than we’ve ever had through surgical abortions.”
Bravo said the best prevention against medication abortion is building relationships with abortion-vulnerable women so they never end up taking the abortion pill in the first place. She pointed out that Planned Parenthood’s abortion business model today is based on pre-existing relationships with clients: It utilizes telemedicine to connect with women and men and is providing them with health services. She noted that in California, Planned Parenthood is expanding into primary care and is starting to rebrand as “Melody Women’s Health.”
Bravo said that Obria is seeking to build those pre-existing relationships with women and men by connecting to them through Obria’s telemedicine platform and providing them with medical care and social support so that if they are in a crisis situation, they will turn to Obria first for help.
So far, just three states have enacted changes to informed-consent laws related to informing women about abortion reversal.
Arkansas explicitly requires women to be told that it might be possible to reverse a mifepristone abortion. South Dakota’s legislation states that a woman does not have to continue the two-step abortion regimen if she changes her mind, and to look to the state health department’s website for information on reversal – none of which can be found there. Arizona passed and then repealed legislation requiring women to be informed that medication abortion could be reversed after a court challenge.
Lawmakers in a handful of other states have attempted to bring similar bills to their statehouses for consideration based on model legislation developed by Americans United for Life (AUL).
Denise Burke, AUL’s vice president of legal affairs, told the National Catholic Register that the organization believes women should know there’s a “possibility” that they could increase their chances of keeping their children with this treatment.
“This is empowering women to make the best decision for them and their families,” she said.
Burke said AUL has been in contact with a number of legislators that are contemplating bills for 2018. She hopes that the results of Delgado’s forthcoming study will bolster the case for lawmakers for making this knowledge part of the informed-consent process for abortion.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), however, has weighed against states changing their informed-consent laws. An ACOG spokesman referred to a position paper noting abortion-pill reversal has not been substantiated by the body of scientific evidence and is not recommended in ACOG’s clinical guidance on medication abortion.
ACOG’s paper noted that pregnancy will continue in 30-50 percent of women who take mifepristone alone and do not take misoprostol.
“Available research seems to indicate that in the rare situation where a woman takes mifepristone and then changes her mind, doing nothing and waiting to see what happens is just as effective as intervening with a course of progesterone,” it stated.
Dr. Gretchen Stuart, director of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s family-planning division, told the National Catholic Register that “laws that affect medical practice should be based on scientific evidence.”
“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that medication abortion reversal is not supported by scientific evidence, and, therefore, this approach is not recommended,” she said.
Stuart also noted that Delgado’s previous report in the literature of women receiving progesterone injections was “too small a sample size to make scientific conclusions.”
In contrast, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists has lent its support to Delgado’s work.
Studies on the Way
Delgado told the National Catholic Register his latest findings will be published over the next several months. However, he stated the ACOG position paper cited figures for incomplete abortion, which are not the same figures as embryo survival. In the studies where doctors checked for the embryo’s survival with ultrasound, the embryo was already dead, even though the woman’s body had not begun the process of expelling the uterine contents.
In principle, he said women should know that reversal is an option “in case they change their minds” and be assured no scientific data indicates either mifepristone or progesterone treatments cause birth defects.
“We have evidence that using progesterone to reverse the effects of a mifepristone abortion is both safe and effective,” Delgado said.
Further studies demonstrating the effectiveness of Delgado’s technique will likely be needed before more legislators act on it. Rep. Bacon said he intends to bring his bill back to the statehouse once he can approach his fellow Indiana lawmakers with “more clinical proof.”
“I definitely will bring it back then.”
This article was originally published by the National Catholic Register.
Washington D.C., Aug 15, 2017 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Mass and a documentary premiere are among the events marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Servant of God Father Vincent R. Capodanno, the decorated Navy chaplain who was killed seeking to provide the sacraments to ambushed Marines in the Vietnam War.
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services will celebrate the Annual Mass for Father Capodanno Sept. 5 at the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The Mass will take place at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
“Many of the surviving Marines who served with Father Capodanno will participate, along with current senior military leaders and active-duty personnel. The public is invited to attend,” the Archdiocese for the Military Services said Aug. 10.
Father Capodanno was a Maryknoll priest from Staten Island, N.Y. He was nicknamed the “Grunt Padre” for his service to members of the infantry.
While with Maryknoll, Fr. Capodanno served in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and then requested to be reassigned as a chaplain with the US Marine Corps. He was sent to Vietnam in 1966, and requested an extension to his tour of duty when it was up.
The chaplain was killed at the age of 38 on Sept. 4, 1967 in Vietnam’s Que Son Valley after his unit was ambushed by North Vietnamese forces. Despite suffering injuries from mortar fire, including a partly severed hand, he continued to last rites to the dying and medical aid to the wounded.
In disregard of intense small arms fire, automatic weapons fire, and mortars, Fr. Capodanno rushed about 15 yards to reach a wounded corpsman in the direct line of fire of a North Vietnamese machine gunner. He was killed just before he reached the wounded man.
He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on Jan. 7, 1969. “By his heroic conduct on the battlefield, and his inspiring example, Lt. Capodanno upheld the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the cause of freedom,” said the priest’s Medal of Honor citation.
Many of the Catholic faithful devoted to Fr. Capodanno have reported favors granted following intercessory prayers to the chaplain. In 2006 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints declared Fr. Capodanno a Servant of God.
On Aug. 30 at 10 p.m. Eastern Time, EWTN Global Catholic Network will broadcast the world premiere of a 90-minute documentary “Called and Chosen: Father Vincent R. Capodanno,” about his life and death. The documentary’s producer is Jim Kelty.
Before the documentary, at 8 p.m. Aug. 30, EWTN Live will carry a one-hour panel discussion about Fr. Capodanno. The show will be hosted by Father Mitch Pacwa, S.J., with panelists including Kelty; Capt. George Phillips, USMC (Ret.), board chairman of the Father Capodanno Guild; and Mary Preece, vice-postulator of Fr. Capodanno’s cause for canonization.
The Archdiocese for Military Services encouraged viewings of the documentary on EWTN and to participate in the Mass for Father Capodanno.
In October 2013 Archbishop Broglio appointed a tribunal to investigate whether the priest had led a life of heroic virtue, with the goal of determining whether his cause for sainthood should be pursued.
The archbishop in May announced that the archdiocesan phase of the clause had closed. A decision is pending from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints concerning whether to declare the priest “venerable.”
Washington D.C., Aug 15, 2017 / 12:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Today, Catholics around the world mark the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, commemorating the end of her earthly life and assumption into Heaven. But while the feast day is a relatively new one, the history of the holiday – and the mystery behind it – has its roots in the earliest centuries of Christian belief.
“As her earthly life comes to an end, the Assumption helps us to understand more fully not just her life, but it helps us to always focus our gaze to Eternity,” said EWTN Senior Contributor Dr. Matthew Bunson.
“We see in Mary the logic of the Assumption as the culmination of Mary’s life,” he continued. “A Eucharistic requirement for that day is very fitting.”
The dogma of the Assumption of Mary – also called the “Dormition of Mary” in the Eastern Churches – has its roots in the early centuries of the Church. The Catholic Church teaches that when Mary ended her earthly life, God assumed her, body and soul into heaven.
This belief traces its roots back to the earliest years of the Church. While a site outside of Jerusalem was recognized as the tomb of Mary, the earliest Christians maintained that “no one was there,” Bunson said.
According to St. John of Damascus, in the 5th century, at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, Roman Emperor Marcian requested the body of Mary, Mother of God. St. Juvenal, who was Bishop of Jerusalem replied “that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven,” the saint recorded.
By the 8th century, around the time of Pope Adrian, the Church began to change its terminology, renaming the feast day of the Memorial of Mary to the Assumption of Mary, Bunson noted.
The belief in the Assumption of Mary was a widely-held tradition, and a frequent meditation in the writings of saints throughout the centuries. However it was not defined officially until the past century. In 1950, Pope Pius XII made an infallible, ex-cathedra statement in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus officially defining the dogma of the Assumption.
“By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory,” the Pope wrote.
Within the decree, which was passed beforehand to dioceses around the world, Pope Pius XII surveys centuries of Christian thought and the writings of a number of saints on the Assumption of Mary.
“We have throughout the history of the Church an almost universal attestation of this,” Bunson said of the Christian tradition’s testimony to Mary’s Assumption.
“We have this thread that runs throughout the whole of the history of the Church in support of the dogma. That’s significant because it supports the tradition of the Church, but it also supports a coming to a deeper understanding of the teachings of the Church of how we rely upon the reflections of some of the greatest minds of our Church.”
What’s also notable about the dogma, he added, is that it “uses the passive tense,” emphasizing that Mary did not ascend into heaven on her own power, as Christ did, but was raised into heaven by God’s grace.
Today, the Feast of the Assumption is marked as a major feast day and a public holiday in many countries. In most countries, including the United States, it is a Holy Day of Obligation, and Catholics are required to attend Mass. Dr. Bunson explained that on important feast days, it’s important to mark the significance of the feast as especially vital by emphasizing the necessity of celebrating the Eucharist that day.
“What is more fitting than on the Assumption of the Blessed Mother to, once again, focus on her Son, on the Eucharist?” he reflected.