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Updated: 2 hours 36 min ago

More than 130 Colorado doctors, scientists support late-term abortion ban 

3 hours 15 min ago

Denver, Colo., Sep 23, 2020 / 04:06 am (CNA).- More than 130 medical professionals and scientists in Colorado have signed a letter in support of Proposition 115, a ballot measure seeking to ban abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy.

“As Healthcare professionals we are totally aware of the science of human development. The humanity of a 22-week fetus is apparent to each of us. There can be no doubt that the 22-week fetus is fully alive and fully human,” the letter reads.

Colorado currently has no laws regulating late-term abortion, either restricting the procedure or explicitly protecting it. As a result, abortions can take place up until birth.

This November, Proposition 115 will ask voters if they want to ban abortion in the state after 22 weeks of pregnancy, unless a mother’s life is threatened. If the ballot measure passes, doctors would face a three-year suspension of their license for performing or attempting to perform an abortion. Women would not be charged with seeking or obtaining an abortion.

More than 150,000 people from across Colorado signed a petition to place the initiative on the upcoming ballot.

In their letter, released last week, the 134 health care professionals and scientists outlined facts of fetal development that illustrate the humanity of an unborn baby at 22 weeks.

Babies at this age may react to their mother’s touch, experience pain, and demonstrate a preference for their mother’s voice, as well as for musical pieces to which they have been exposed. Children at this age may even exhibit social interaction with a twin in utero.

Advances in neonatal medicine mean that babies born at 22 weeks are often able to survive, the signers of the letter said. They noted that some medical centers in the U.S. have a 70% survival rate for premature babies born at this age.

A fetus can also undergo surgery, and is treated as a separate and distinct patient from the mother, the doctors and scientists noted, adding, “Therefore, they should be treated as individuals by Colorado law.”

“With advances in medical science, it has become obvious that the fetus is much more than ‘just pregnancy tissue’, as some would claim. There can be no equivocation that the fetus is a living, learning and actively participating human being,” they stressed. “Every one of these lives has inherent value and dignity. They deserve to be embraced and protected by the citizens of Colorado, as equal members of our society.”

The doctors and scientists recognized the difficulties some pregnant women face. Rather than abortion, they said, these women should be offered a robust support system, through both public and private venues. They encouraged adoption, perinatal hospice programs, and housing for pregnant women.

The signers of the letter applauded the efforts of both public and faith-based pregnancy resource centers, including the Caring Pregnancy Resource Center of Northeast Colorado, Little Flower Maternity Home, Let Them Live, Alternatives Pregnancy Center, and Marisol Health.

“We stand in solidarity with all those who work privately and publicly to support women during their pregnancies, especially those women who face difficult circumstances or challenges during their pregnancies,” they said.

Know some excellent parishes of the pandemic? There's an award for that

3 hours 21 min ago

Denver Newsroom, Sep 23, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).- Scot Landry has worked for the Catholic Church for years. So he knows that diocesan and parish offices typically hear very little about what they’re doing well, and a lot about what's not going right.

“The ratio of compliments or gratitude or praise, to complaints...that ratio was in the complaint end of things, stronger than any other time of my life,” Landry told CNA, reflecting on his years working for the Archdiocese of Boston.

For years, Landry has wanted to do something to recognize parishes doing exemplary things, but it never seemed to be the right time.

This year, however, as a global pandemic shut down public Masses in many parts of the world, Landry said he watched parishes find new and creative ways to reach their flocks, and he wanted to celebrate that. That’s why Landry, in partnership with the Parish Excellence Summit and Good Catholic Leadership Group, created the first-ever Parish Excellence Awards.

“There was immediate mission-driven innovation related to continuing the parish’s sacramental and other ministries” in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Landry said in a release announcing the awards.

Catholics can nominate their parishes for excellence awards in a variety of categories, which aim to recognize things like technological excellence to parish outreach and re-opened Mass protocols. There are three “Broadcast Mass” categories alone.

“Most parishes have now turned into broadcasters,” Landry said, because of the temporary closure of public Masses throughout the United States this past spring.

Some parishes were “excellent on the technical side of things, and the broadcast is beautiful. Others were excellent at trying to maximize the number of parishioners who were watching the livestream. Others were good at solving the complexity of doing livestreams when they have a multilingual, multicultural community.”

The Parish Excellence Awards are similar to another national effort, by Mundelein Seminary, which earlier this month accepted nominations for “hero priests” of the pandemic, who went above and beyond to reach their flock in these unprecedented times.

Landry said while his idea wasn’t inspired by the “hero priest” awards, he was glad there are others who also wanted to recognize all that parishes have done for their people during this time.

“We do need to hold up people who are doing great work during the pandemic. I was glad to see that Mundelein was thinking of it,” Landry said.

Winners of the Parish Excellence Awards will be chosen by small committees of volunteers, Landry said, and will be announced at the Parish Excellence Summit, a virtual event held from Nov. 9-13. All who nominate their parish for an award will be invited to the Summit for free.

At the summit, Landry said he plans on presenting three awards each day, and showing video interviews with winners, who can give tips and pointers to other parishes wanting to model initiatives after ones that have been recognized for making a difference.

The summit will highlight the two reasons for the parish awards in the first place, Landry said, which is to recognize excellent parishes, and to pass on ideas for best practices to other parishes who are also striving for excellence.

“One of the ways to honor a parish that is innovative in a mission-driven way, is to learn from it,” Landry said. “Apply it to your own context and then help it to strengthen your own parish. We certainly hope...we wouldn't be doing this if that wasn't one of our big hopes at the end of it.”

Catholics can nominate parishes in 16 different categories through October 19.

And while the Parish Excellence Awards this year are specifically focused on innovation during the pandemic, Landry said he hopes the awards are something he can continue year after year.

“Winning people back after the pandemic, that could be a theme for next year,” he said. “As long as there’s a need to share what's working in some parishes with all the other parishes in the church, at least in the United States, we certainly have an interest in doing it.”

Survey: Catholics, like fellow Americans, favor abortion restrictions

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 17:00

CNA Staff, Sep 22, 2020 / 03:00 pm (CNA).-  

The vast majority of Catholic likely voters – more than 8 in 10 – favor restrictions on abortion, a new poll released this week has found.

Only 15% of those surveyed said abortion should be permitted at any time in a pregnancy. The same percentage said abortion should never be permitted.

Eight percent said abortion should only be allowed in the first six months of a pregnancy, while 21% favored limiting the procedure to the first three months of a pregnancy. Thirty-one percent said abortion should only be permitted in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Nine percent said it should only be allowed to save the life of the mother.

The poll, conducted Aug. 27 - Sept. 1 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, surveyed 1,212 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.

The findings among Catholics are consistent with surveys showing that the majority of Americans support restrictions on abortion.

A January 2020 Marist Poll sponsored by the Knights of Columbus found that 70% of Americans favored banning abortion after three months of pregnancy, at the latest. Almost half of those who labeled themselves as pro-choice said abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy, at most.

The majority of Catholic likely voters in the RealClear poll – 59% – said they are concerned about the issue of abortion as they consider the upcoming presidential election, with 30% identifying the issue as a “major concern.” Among weekly Massgoers, 70% said they were concerned about abortion, with 41% saying it is a topic of “major concern.”

Twenty-two percent of survey respondents said they were more likely to support a candidate for public office if that candidate supports abortion, while 30% said they were less likely to support a candidate who supports abortion.

Forty-three percent of weekly Mass attendees said they were less likely to support a candidate who supports abortion, compared to 26% of those who attend Mass monthly to yearly, and 18% of those who attend Mass less than once a year.

 

US bishops to Trump: 'Enough. Stop these executions'  

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 16:45

CNA Staff, Sep 22, 2020 / 02:45 pm (CNA).-  

The Catholic bishops of the United States on Tuesday implored President Donald Trump to halt two federal executions set to take place this week.

“We say to President Trump and Attorney General Barr: Enough. Stop these executions.” 

“After the first murder recorded in the Bible, God did not end Cain’s life, but rather preserved it, warning others not to kill Cain (Gn. 4:15). As the Church, we must give concrete help to victims of violence, and we must encourage the rehabilitation and restoration of those who commit violence,” the bishops wrote in a statement Sept. 22.

“Accountability and legitimate punishment are a part of this process. Responsibility for harm is necessary if healing is to occur and can be instrumental in protecting society, but executions are completely unnecessary and unacceptable, as Popes St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have all articulated.”

The statement was signed by Archbishop Paul Coakley, chair of the bishops’ domestic policy committee, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chair of the pro-life committee.

Naumann, whose own father was murdered, said earlier this month: “Murder is an unspeakable evil. Those who perpetrate such a crime have inflicted a grave injustice, not only upon the person who was murdered but also upon all their loved ones.”

“The criminal justice system has a responsibility to protect the innocent from victimization and to deter the commission of violent crimes. However. in the United States in 2020, we have the ability to protect society from violent criminals without resorting to the death penalty.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the death penalty as “inadmissible,” citing increasing effectiveness of detention systems, the unchanging dignity of the person, and the importance of leaving open the possibility of conversion.

William LeCroy is set to be executed Sept. 22, while Christopher Vialva’s execution is set for Sept. 24, both by lethal injection. The executions will be the sixth and seventh to take place in the last three months alone.

LeCroy was convicted of raping and killling a nurse in 2001; Vialva was convicted of killing two youth ministers in 1999, who reportedly prayed, spoke about God, and pleaded for their lives as Vialva murdered them.

Attorney General William Barr, a Catholic, during July 2019 announced that executions of federal death-row inmates would resume for the first time since 2003.

The U.S. bishops’ conference has repeatedly condemned the executions, as has Archbishop Charles Thompson of Indianapolis, whose diocese includes the federal prison in Terre Haute, where federal executions take place.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic and several legal challenges delayed the resumption, the federal government resumed executions during July 2020 after the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

On July 7 of this year, several U.S. bishops joined a statement of more than 1,000 faith leaders opposing the resumption of federal executions.

Federal executions are rare, but the bishops noted that there have been more federal executions carried out already in 2020— five— than were carried out in the last sixty years.

One of the most recent federal executions was that of Lezmond Mitchell, a Navajo man whose tribe objected, asking that his sentence be commuted to life in prison. Bishop James Wall of Gallup led a virtual prayer vigil on the afternoon of Aug. 26 ahead of Mitchell’s execution.

President Donald Trump has defended the use of the death penalty and has claimed that his support of the death penalty did not impact his pro-life credentials.

Attorney General Barr is set to be honored at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Sept. 23. 

 

Poll: Catholics overwhelmingly concerned about church attacks, oppose ‘defund the police’

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 15:40

CNA Staff, Sep 22, 2020 / 01:40 pm (CNA).-  

Eighty-three percent of Catholic likely voters are concerned about attacks on churches in recent months, a new poll has found.
 
The poll, conducted Aug. 27 - Sept. 1 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, surveyed 1,212 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.

More than 60% of those surveyed said they were “very concerned” about recent vandalism and attacks on churches, and another 22% said they were “somewhat concerned.” Just 11% said they were either not very concerned or not at all concerned by the recent church attacks.

Recent months have seen numerous acts of vandalism and destruction at Catholic churches across the United States, including arsons and graffiti.

In July, a man crashed a minivan into a Florida Catholic church and then started a fire inside the building.

In Los Angeles, San Gabriel Mission church, founded by St. Junipero Serra, also burned in a fire being investigated for arson. Numerous statues of the saint have been vandalized or destroyed, most of them in California.

Several other churches across the country have been set aflame, and statues of Jesus or Mary have been toppled or decapitated.

While some attacks on statues have been committed by large groups with clear political affiliations, the perpetrators of other acts have not been identified.

Some commenters see the attacks against churches as part of a worrying rise in anti-Christian views.

More than 3 in 4 Catholics surveyed were concerned about anti-Christian sentiment amid recent social protests.

A little more than half of those surveyed said they were “very concerned” by the anti-Christian sentiment, and an additional quarter said they were “somewhat concerned.” Thirteen percent said they had little or no concern.

Nearly three-quarters of Catholics surveyed also voiced concern about vandalism of Catholic statues and burning of bibles at some recent protests.

More than 80% of Catholics who say they accept all or most of Church teaching said they were concerned about the acts of violence against statues, compared to just over half of those whos say their Catholic faith has little to no influence in their lives.

The survey comes amid ongoing protests against instances of police brutality and racism across the U.S. In some cases, demonstrators have become violent, including by attacking police officers. Law-and-order, police reform, and systemic racism have become major topics of discussion in the upcoming election.

An overwhelming majority – 82% of those surveyed – said they have at least some trust in their local police department to protect the interests of their family.

Older respondents were more likely to trust the police department than young adults, and white participants voiced higher levels of trust than Black and Hispanic participants, although all age ranges and racial groups saw more than 60% saying they trust the police.

Only 1 in 3 Catholics surveyed said they support “defund the police” initiatives, intended to shift funding from police departments to other social services.

Men were more likely to support defunding the police than women were, and young adults were more likely to support the initiatives than older people were.

Just 29% of white respondents supported “defund the police” initiatives, compared to 48% of Black respondents and 41% of Hispanics.

Fifty-three percent of poll participants said Catholics should be doing more to heal divisions in America on race, compared to 19% who said Catholics should not be more active on this issue, and 28% who were unsure.
 

 

Trump to UN: Protect the unborn and religious minorities

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 13:00

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 22, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- President Trump told world leaders that the United States is committed to “protecting unborn children” in remarks to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) from the White House on Tuesday.

“America will always be a leader in human rights,” Trump said in his speech to the UNGA from the White House. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, world leaders were invited to deliver their speeches to the assembly remotely, and they were then broadcast as “live.”

“My administration is advancing religious liberty, opportunity for women, the decriminalization of homosexuality, combatting human trafficking, and protecting unborn children,” the president said.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

Trump previously raised the defence of the unborn in his 2019 address to the UNGA, saying that “like many nations here today, we in America believe that every child, born and unborn, is a sacred gift from God.”

Trump’s administration has sought to redirect U.S. foreign assistance away from foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide or promote abortions, under the Mexico City Policy

While the Mexico City Policy applied to about $600 million in USAID family planning assistance, the administration expanded it to include billions of dollars in global health assistance and is now seeking to apply its conditions to military and government contracts with foreign NGOs.

The administration stopped funding the UN’s population fund (UNFPA) because of its partnership with China, where the Communist government’s two-child policy is enforced through forced abortion and sterilization. It also reduced funding for the Organization of American States after one of its organs apparently lobbied for abortion.

Trump’s remarks echoed those of the Holy See, also given at the UN this week.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, addressed a high-level meeting at the UNGA on Monday, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the UN.

“The UN has strived to champion universal human rights, which also include the right to life and freedom of religion, as they are essential for the much needed promotion of a world where the dignity of every human person is protected and advanced,” he stated.

On Tuesday, Trump also called on the UN to “focus on the real problems of the world,” which he said included “human and sex trafficking, religious persecution, and the ethnic cleansing of religious minorities.”

Trump also used his address to criticize China for its response to the new coronavirus pandemic, as well as its pollution of oceans and high rate of carbon emissions.

Although Trump criticized China and called on the UN to attend to religious persecution, he did not mention China’s mass imprisonment of an estimated 800,000 to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in its northwest region.

The largely-Muslim ethnic population has reportedly been subject to forced birth control and sterilization, repression of religious practice, mass surveillance, and forced labor, and detainees have suffered indoctrination and torture.

Trump also defended the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, saying that the country reduced its carbon emissions more than any other country in the accord last year.

Pope Francis in his 2015 speech at the UNGA, praised the Paris agreement as a step that could “secure fundamental and effective agreements” to protect the environment.

Who is potential Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett? What you need to know.

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 10:00

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 22, 2020 / 08:00 am (CNA).- Following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18, speculation on who President Donald Trump will nominate to replace her has focused on Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. 

Who is Amy Coney Barrett? Here's what you need to know:

Dogma lives loudly

Barrett first rose to prominence during her confirmation hearing in September 2017, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned her on her Catholic faith. 

“Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that dogma and law are two different things, and I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different,” Feinstein said at the time.

“And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern,” said Feinstein.

The California senator’s questioning of Barrett raised the Notre Dame Law School professor to a national figure. Just over two weeks after she was confirmed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, she was added to President Donald Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court picks, and was rumored to have been one of the finalists to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy upon his retirement.

Trump chose Justice Brett Kavanaugh at that point, and a report emerged in 2019 that Trump had said he was “saving” Barrett to fill a potential vacancy caused by the death or retirement of Justice Ginsburg, the oldest member of the court at the time. With Ginsburg’s death, Barrett is once again being discussed for the highest court in the country. 

Personal life

Born in New Orleans, the eldest of seven children, she graduated from Rhodes College before receiving a full scholarship to Notre Dame Law School. After graduating first in her class from law school, and then clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, before going into private practice. She returned to Notre Dame Law School and taught classes in 2002 before becoming a professor in 2010. 

Since Ginsburg’s death, Barrett has been scrutinized for her Catholic faith and family size. Barrett and her husband have seven children, including two adopted from Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. 

Catholic faith

At the time of her last judicial nomination, criticism of Barrett focused on the size of her family and her Catholic faith, attracting pushback from some commentators and making the judge a popular figure among many Catholics. 

Amid renewed scrutiny of Barrett’s personal life and beliefs in advance of a possible Trump nomination, Princeton University Professor Robert George highlighted the anti-Catholic tropes again being used in criticism of the judge.

“One would have hoped that having brought shame on themselves last time, and blunted their spear on Judge Barrett by attacking her religion, they would be more careful this time about exposing their bigotry to public view. But no,” he said on Twitter. 

During Barrett’s confirmation hearings, questions were also raised about Barrett’s association with the lay organization People of Praise. 

People of Praise has been referred to in the media as a “cult,” and criticized for a practice, which has since been changed, that called leaders “heads” and “handmaidens,” both of which are references to Biblical passages. 

People of Praise was founded in 1971 as part of a “great emergence of lay ministries and lay movements in the Catholic Church,” following Vatican Council II, Bishop Peter Smith, a member of the organization, told CNA.

The group began with 29 members who formed a “covenant”- an agreement, not an oath, to follow common principles, to give five percent of annual income to the group, and to meet regularly for spiritual, social, and service projects.

Covenant communities- Protestant and Catholic- emerged across the country in the 1970s, as a part of the Charismatic Renewal movement in American Christianity.

While most People of Praise members are Catholic, the group is officially ecumenical; people from a variety of Christian denominations can join. Members of the group are free to attend the church of their choosing, including different Catholic parishes, Smith explained.

What will happen next?

On Monday President Trump announced that he expects to name his nominee for the Supreme Court by the end of the week, following memorial and funeral services for Justice Ginsburg.

Ginsburg will lie in state at the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol on Friday, following two days of lying in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday. Ginsburg will lie underneath the Portico, and the public will be permitted to view the casket outdoors. 

As per tradition, Ginsburg’s former law clerks will serve as her honorary pallbearers. 

Ginsburg will be buried in a private ceremony alongside her husband at Arlington National Cemetery.

Kroger employees allege religious discrimination over 'rainbow' apron

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 06:00

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 22, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).- The federal government is suing the Kroger Company for discrimination after two employees at an Arkansas store were fired for not wearing a symbol they say represents the LGBT cause.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against the supermarket chain on Sept. 14, alleging that store No. 625 in Conway, Ark., infringed on the religious beliefs of two employees who refused to wear a uniform apron with a multi-colored heart; Kroger fired the employees after disciplining them several times for failure to comply with the uniform.

The EEOC filed a Title VII lawsuit in a federal district court, seeking back pay, compensatory damages, and a halt to any future acts of discrimination against employees. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination on a number of counts, including on the basis of religion.

“Companies have an obligation under Title VII to consider requests for religious accommodations, and it is illegal to terminate employees for requesting an accommodation for their religious beliefs,” Delner-Franklin Thomas, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, stated.

“The EEOC protects the rights of the LGBTQ community, but it also protects the rights of religious people,” he said.

When the Conway Kroger introduced a new dress code in April, 2019, it asked employees to wear an apron with a multi-colored heart emblem on the bib; the EEOC complaint says that it was a “rainbow-colored” emblem, while some pro-LGBT websites claimed that the heart was not rainbow-colored and was not an LGBT symbol.

The sites reported pictures of Kroger employees wearing an apron with a heart that appears to be navy blue in the center, with yellow, red, and light blue outline.

The rainbow flag is a common symbol of the LGBTQ movement, and both employees had a “good faith belief” that the multicolored heart represented the LGBTQ cause, the EEOC complaint said. 

A Kroger corporate affairs manager told CNA that the company would not comment on the case, due to the pending litigation. However, corporate marketing materials for other Kroger venues explain the four-colored heart as representing "Everyone Friendly and Caring, Everything Fresh, Uplift Every Way, Improve Everday."

The two women employees in the lawsuit—Brenda Lawson and Trudy Rickerd—say they declined to wear the emblem because of their Biblical religious beliefs against same-sex marriage.

Lawson, who had worked in the deli department at the Kroger since August of 2011, asked the store manager multiple times to wear her name tag over the heart and clarified her religious reasons for doing so. She also made the request of the store’s human resources department in writing.

The other employee, Trudy Rickerd, worked as a cashier and file maintenance clerk at the store since October, 2006. She wrote that she had “a sincerely held religious belief that I cannot wear a symbol that promotes or endorses something that is in violation of my religious faith.”

“I respect others who have a different opinion and am happy to work alongside others who desire to wear the symbol. I am happy to buy another apron to ensure there is no financial hardship on Kroger,” she wrote.

According to the EEOC, they were “repeatedly” disciplined for not wearing the heart, and Rickerd was fired on May 29, 2019; Lawson was fired shortly afterward on June 1.

The Lamp: Why these Catholics are creating a print magazine in a digital age

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 05:01

Denver Newsroom, Sep 22, 2020 / 03:01 am (CNA).- When Thomas Earnest Bradley wrote and edited The Lamp, a 19th century British Catholic periodical, he did so largely from his cell in debtors’ prison, “that horrible institution that existed in those days.”

Bradley sold his magazine for a penny, a fifth of the price of his competitors, and his definition of Catholic was broad.

“It ran articles on themes that were not always, in a narrow or straightforward sense, Catholic topics,” Matthew Walther told CNA.

“They would run a story about some new scientific innovation or about a book or a play, that was not by a Catholic or didn't have in any ostensible way a Catholic theme.”

That version of The Lamp has been defunct for years. But it was, in part, the inspiration for a new Catholic magazine by the same name, with the same logo.

Walther, a journalist, and his friend William Borman (friends call him Billy), founded The Lamp magazine in the United States this past year with similar goals in mind: “a magazine that was sort of witty and urbane, in a way that was not shrill or grating to read, that tried to speak to the full range of what the Church teaches,” Walther said. 

“We're operating under the assumption that anything that is good, true and beautiful falls within the purview of what should be in a good Catholic magazine,” he said.

Borman added that it is not a carbon-copy of the original Lamp magazine, which was “basically a working class daily magazine,” with a penchant for “scientific articles, almost like a Popular Science.” 

But the use of similar aesthetics, along with an equally-broad idea of what kinds of topics qualify as Catholic, gives the magazine “a throwback flavor. A little picture of the oil lamp burning on the cover is the same picture (as the original), with a slight modern twist,” Borman said. 

Some Catholics may protest that such a truly Catholic magazine already exists. There are, after all, several periodicals in the United States that label themselves as Catholic magazines.

But Walther and Borman would argue that it does not already exist. Not in the way they envision.

“(T)here really is no such thing, in an otherwise pretty wide and diverse landscape of Catholic media in the English-speaking world, something that is actually a magazine as opposed to a website or a newswire or what have you that is orthodox, without naming any names,” Walther said.


That’s what The Lamp hopes to be. A magazine faithful to the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church that covers all manner of things from a Catholic point of view. It will cover politics - though only broader political ideas, and not so much the “shrill horse-race” of particular elections. It will cover goings-on in the Church, but not in the way of "Can you believe this bishop did this? Oh my goodness," Walther said. No pope-bashing, and no ultramontanism either.

So what kinds of stories is the new Lamp magazine interested in?

“We wanted something that would also tell people interesting (we hope), and at times encouraging or moving stories about parts of Catholic life that are ordinary, but also, not talked about very much. Things like the history of rural parish churches, or the lives of someone like the man in the first issue who served several decades of an unjust prison sentence.”

The latter is told in the first issue of The Lamp, in which author Brandon McGinley tells the story of Jeff Cristina, who served a 40 year sentence for a wrongful conviction of murder as a juvenile. Cristina, nominally Catholic when his sentence began, returned to the sacraments and brought many others with him during his years behind bars. 

“The story had been on my desk for a while and I didn't have a home for it,” McGinley told CNA. But when Walther and Borman, friends of McGinley’s, started The Lamp, “they were really kind to offer it a home.”

McGinley is a Catholic speaker, and author of The Prodigal Church as well as a contributing editor to Plough Quarterly. Like the founders of The Lamp, McGinley believes that the magazine is filling a previously empty niche in Catholic media - a niche for longform journalism that is “broad both in the kind of content, the topics that they cover, and in terms of the specific points of view that they're bringing in (while) still being faithfully and integrally and genuinely Catholic.”

“And it's fun,” McGinley added. “In the opening section, the ‘feuilleton’ (a French word for the opening section of a magazine with short, light literature), Matthew is just hilarious. They have fun with this, it's not joyless.” As an example, one of the sample articles on The Lamp’s website is “The Bull Against Open Letters” (or, The Open Letter Against Open Letters), which the author declares are the “most revolting, foul, noxious, poisonous, blasphemous, vicious, wicked, deceitful, covinous, Brummagem, catch-penny Pamphlets...offensive to  to men, women, holy priests, deacons, sub-deacons, porters, lectors, exorcists, acolytes, virgins, wives, sons, daughters, suckling babes, lawyers, practitioners after physick, and others, we hereby declare anathema these selfsame base cullions, rascals, apes, dogs, shoes, &c. who have addressed themselves to the baptized under the supposed appellation of ‘Open Letters.’”

The aforementioned letter, as well as a handful of other sample articles, appear on The Lamp’s website - but not much else does, as the publication is primarily a print magazine, a decision Borman and Walther are well aware was a risky one in a digital age.

“We'd heard (that print was dead), but we are both unfortunately terrible book collectors,” Borman said. “And so we're maybe just in the habit of thinking that print is superior to online or to digital.”

“That costs money, but we found people have been plenty willing to pay it,” Borman said. They’ve thus far had successful fundraisers - some online, due to the pandemic - and have attracted readers, primarily between the ages of 25-45, from all over the world, from “New York and Washington to London, Australia, and India.”

The first issue of the bi-monthly magazine came out in Easter, at the height of the global coronavirus lockdowns, an unforeseen challenge when the idea for The Lamp was conceived, Borman said. It delayed their first issue and caused some shipping snafus, but otherwise did not have too big of an impact.

Besides having an affinity for physical copies, a print magazine also helps further the goals of The Lamp, Walther said - it’s a beautiful object people can hold in their hands that prompts them to slow down and enjoy what they’re reading, something that they’d want to save and display on their coffee table or bookshelf. Borrowing a phrase from Cardinal Robert Sarah, Walther said a print magazine helps elevate The Lamp above the “culture of noise.”

“The great upside in online journalism is that now people, no matter where they are, if they have access to an internet connection, they can read as much as they want from as many different voices or perspectives as possible, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Walther said.

“And the downside of online journalism is all of those things, because it becomes this cycle in which you get caught up in and you can lose sight of more important things when you're immersed in not even day-to-day, but hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute-cycle in journalism,” he said.

“We wanted to create something that will allow people to step away from the computer for an hour or two, put their feet up, and have a drink and immerse themselves in something very different, something slower, and, we hope, maybe a little bit more thoughtful, and less animated by the kinds of concerns that prevail in the online media infrastructure,” he said.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Evening plans now that issue #2 arrived <a href="https://twitter.com/thelampmagazine?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@thelampmagazine</a> <a href="https://t.co/jMVvSYhPHU">pic.twitter.com/jMVvSYhPHU</a></p>&mdash; Cullen (@CullenETB) <a href="https://twitter.com/CullenETB/status/1298055746907774976?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 25, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The desire to rise above divisiveness is key to The Lamp’s identity, Borman added.

“I think that people today more than ever are growing tired with the constant outrage and the relentless attention to partisan (politics) sometimes at the expense of the faith,” he said.

“We are attempting to be a kind of an anomaly in an age of a barrage of constant information - where we publish six times a year and we print very few illustrations in here,” he said.

“I think that people are really hungry for it, and the response we've gotten has confirmed this for us. They're hungry for an approach to life in the light of the faith that takes its reader seriously and gives them serious ideas to think about.”

McGinley agreed that The Lamp is “breaking the mold” of the deeply-entrenched partisan rhetoric that can be found on social media today.

“It's not on a team, that's the first thing I think about it,” McGinley said.

“The content you're going to find in this magazine, in this journal, is not going to be easily identifiable with any currently existing alliance in Catholic politics and politics generally,” he said, noting that thus far the magazine has included pieces from a Jewish Marxist alongside those of Catholic scholars.

So far, Borman and Walther have found contributors to the magazine from among their friends and connections, but they also accept cold submissions. They’re looking for pieces that are entertaining, edifying, moving, and thought-provoking.

“Apart from the obvious goals that any magazine would have, which is producing something that readers will enjoy, I think what we really want is to encourage people to lay aside secular prejudices and really think through what it means to approach our political and cultural issues with the mind of the Church,” Walther said.

Ultimately, he said, “we just want people to try to think like Catholics.”

Black Catholic leader calls for ‘a new era of authentic love and justice’

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 02:00

CNA Staff, Sep 22, 2020 / 12:00 am (CNA).-  

A Black Catholic leader said Friday that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is the wrong organization to lead an important movement against racism in the U.S., because, he said, it asserts a relativistic agenda that will cause harm to Black families.
 
“While it is important to affirm the truth that black lives matter, unfortunately, the Black Lives Matter organization (BLM) itself is ill-equipped to lead,” Louis Brown wrote in an essay published Friday in First Things.

“Black lives do matter—the phrase is correct that all God’s people deserve love, dignity, truth, and freedom. Our brothers and sisters who peacefully protest for justice with signs of ‘black lives matter’ march justly. However, there is a difference between asserting ‘black lives matter’ and the BLM organization itself, which is seriously flawed.”

Brown, executive director of the Christ Medicus Foundation, is an attorney who worked for the Democratic National Committee, before his pro-life views led him to leave the position. Brown has worked for both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, and in a senior position in the civil rights office of the federal department of Health and Human Services.

The phrase “#BlackLivesMatter” began to trend online following the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, and a movement grew amid protests and riots in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 after a young black man, Michael Brown, was shot in an altercation with a police officer.

“Black Lives Matter” has become the rallying cry for a broad social movement. But there are also specific organizations which take the name “Black Lives Matter.” The largest and best-funded of those groups is the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, which has a network of local chapters around the U.S. and in other countries.

Brown said that organization “asserts a worldview of moral relativism that recognizes no objective truth, ‘disrupts’ the natural family, and undermines the natural law foundation of civil rights. Its agenda divides people in an arbitrary manner that will, ironically, lead to greater strife especially for black families.”

“By advocating for gender ideology, BLM rejects the basic truths of human dignity in the natural law. Gender ideology replaces the scientific and biological reality of maleness and femaleness with the false belief that one’s sex can be changed. However, as both Pope Francis and the African Cardinal Robert Sarah have asserted, gender ideology is a false construct with no basis in scientific reality. Gender ideology is destructive because it rejects the truths of male and female existence. There can be no dignity or freedom without truth,” he added.

The website of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation recently altered a page outlining controversial beliefs of the organization on the family and sexuality.

As recently as Sept. 17, the organization’s “about” page said the group was a “a queer‐affirming network” that works toward “freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual,” to “dismantle cisgender privilege,” and to ‘disrupt’ the ‘nuclear family.’

New text on the group’s website reaffirms its positions on gender ideology, saying that “Black liberation movements in this country have created room, space, and leadership mostly for Black heterosexual, cisgender men — leaving women, queer and transgender people, and others either out of the movement or in the background to move the work forward with little or no recognition.”

Brown is not the only Black Catholic leader to criticize the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, and distinguish it from important calls for racial justice.

“It’s time to state honestly what BLM really stands for - destroying the traditional Family AND what it actually does - destroying property including religious building and objects!” tweeted Cardinal Wilfred Napier of Durban, South Africa, who himself is Black, on Aug. 28, in reference to the organization. Napier was a part of the Church in South Africa's struggle against apartheid.

Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, a Black Catholic deacon of the Diocese of Portland, Oregon, author, and co-host of EWTN’s Morning Glory radio show told Catholic World Report in August that, like Brown, he draws a distinction between a movement and an organization.

“When you put those three words together—black lives matter—as a social movement, it’s a statement of truth, which is a good thing.”

“But the term ‘black lives matter’ has been conflated with the national organization, Black Lives Matter. In a lot of people’s minds, when you say ‘black lives matter,’ people automatically think of the national organization,” he lamented.

Noting that the organization’s values “raise some red flags” for him, he mentioned especially that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation does not address the importance of fatherhood.

“Look at all that, plus the violence that is being perpetrated, the rioting, the looting, the tearing down statues, all of these things,” the deacon said. “No Catholic in good conscience can have anything to do with a group like that. Period.”

Brown’s essay said that the U.S. needs to address “racial discrimination and unjust inequality,” but called for a Christian approach to those issues.

He pointed to “police misconduct and racial discrimination in our criminal justice system, and to the disproportionate suffering that COVID-19 has wrought in many communities of color.”

“As a black man, I am pained to learn of police officers killing unarmed black people.”

“As an attorney who has also worked as a staffer in Congress and the executive branch, I have seen that the majority of law enforcement officials are good people seeking to protect and serve,” Brown wrote, but “racial discrimination in the criminal justice system continues in the form of racial profiling, police misconduct, and discriminatory criminal sentencing.”

Pointing to healthcare inequality, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, Brown noted that “Even once this health crisis ends, many African American communities will still not have the medical care they deserve. Historical patterns of racial exclusion have exacerbated negative health care outcomes. Ensuring that the vulnerable have access to proper medical care is necessary to restoring a culture of life.”

Brown’s essay came as polling shows declining support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and after the destruction of police stations and other public buildings amid protests in some cities, and the shooting of two Los Angeles sheriff's deputies Sept. 12.

On that date, a gunman approached a parked police car near the light rail station in Compton, California, opening fire with a pistol at the two police officers inside. Both survived despite multiple gunshot wounds, and the shooter fled on foot.

The officers, a 31-year-old mother and a 24-year-old male, had been on the job less than a year, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said after the shooting.

The incident garnered additional attention because of a protest that took place later that evening outside St. Francis Medical Center, where the officers had been transported for surgery.

A video posted by a local journalist on the scene shows several men shouting at a group of police officers outside the hospital, and one can be heard shouting “I hope they [expletive] die.”

Police arrested two people in connection to the protest, including the journalist who filmed the scene; the journalist was released later that night with a citation for obstructing a police officer.

Protestors blocked the path of the ambulance carrying officers to the hospital, and the LA County Sheriff’s office said via Twitter: “DO NOT BLOCK EMERGENCY ENTRIES & EXITS TO THE HOSPITAL. People's lives are at stake when ambulances can't get through,”

News reports have not confirmed whether the protest at the hospital was an officially organized event convened by Black Lives Matter.

Protestors identifying themselves as being affiliated with Black Lives Matter have staged protests at police precincts across the country in recent months, with mobs destroying police precincts in Minneapolis and Portland in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in May. 

Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, a local affiliate of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, did not respond to CNA’s request for comment.

Pentecostal minister Eugene Rivers, director of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies, told CNA he considers it “a moral disgrace that the BLM organization did not condemn the shooting of the police officers in Compton, California. Under no circumstances could the moral and political failure to speak up be justified.”

Rivers, who is Black, called the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation “a scam that exploits the suffering of Black people to promote gender ideology.”

The minister said the organization “is peddling morally, tactically, and intrinsically stupid ideas,” reminiscent of “the Black Panther Party, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and Revolutionary Action Movement and others who laid out an assortment of dystopian visions for the Black community and the country in general.”

Rivers said the group has “repudiate[d] Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy,” replacing it with “irrational ideas that have so quickly led to violence in its name rather than maintaining the non-violent high ground MLK staked out from his Christian perspective.”

Leaders of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles have said their efforts are more than a movement for racial justice, but are a “spiritual movement,” which have incorporated spiritual rituals into protests, drawing from animistic religions by calling forth deceased ancestors and pouring out libations for them.

Brown wrote last week that an authentic movement for racial justice needs to be rooted in love, and, ultimately, in Christ.

“Racial injustice is part of the culture of death. To build a culture of life in America, we need a revival of God’s love and a new era of civil rights,” he wrote.

“True justice is based on the foundational principle of civil rights: each person’s God-given natural rights as embodied in the natural law. Thanks to the natural law, abolitionists knew slavery was wrong even though civil law said it was right, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew segregation was wrong even though the voting majority in many states likely supported it.”

“A new era of authentic love and justice is needed and will begin with a Christian revival of love for God and neighbor. This love is the only force powerful enough to bring lasting healing.”

“The Christian faithful must rededicate themselves to love through spiritual and corporal works of mercy that serve communities of color and the vulnerable. We must give the best of the Church, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to those on the peripheries.”
 
“God calls us to do justice in bringing about the Kingdom of God and building up the culture of life,” Brown concluded.
 
“Agendas opposed to human dignity strengthen the culture of death, and can never lead us toward justice. As Christians, we must charge ahead in the love of Christ to lead a revival of God’s love and bring about a new era of Christian humanism in America.”

 

Survey finds correlation between Catholic Mass attendance, political views 

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 20:00

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- A recent survey has found a correlation between the religious practices of Catholic likely voters, their party affiliation, and the political issues they say are important, with Catholics who attend Mass regularly saying they are more concerned about abortion, among other issues.

Conducted Aug. 27 - Sept. 1 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, the poll surveyed 1,212 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.

The poll was conducted before the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which is expected to shake up electoral polling as events unfold. EWTN News and RealClear Opinion Research plan to launch a new poll in mid-October, which is expected to reflect the impact on voters of Ginsburg’s death and the subsequent Supreme Court nomination process.

Among poll participants, 36% say they attended Mass once or more per week before restrictions were placed on worship services due to the coronavirus. Another 42% said they attended Mass between once a month and once a year, and 22% said they attended Mass less than once per year.

Sixty-eight percent said at the time of the poll that Supreme Court appointments were a concern in the upcoming election, while 59% said the same about abortion – although among weekly Mass attendees, concern about abortion jumps to 70%.

When broken down by Mass attendance, the new poll showed a significant difference in presidential preferences, as well as differences in their trust of the two main candidates on various topics.

Respondents overall favored Biden over Trump in the upcoming election 53% to 41%, while Catholics who attend Mass at least once per week were split evenly between Biden and Trump. Biden has led Trump overall among Catholic voters in two previous EWTN News/ RealClear polls, while Trump has maintained a lead among some groups of Catholics, including those who attend Mass more than once a week or daily.

As far as party affiliation, Catholic likely voters who are independent or unaffiliated with a major political party were most likely to attend Mass at least weekly, with 44% saying they did so. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans in the survey said they attend Mass at least weekly, and 31% of Democrats said the same.

A quarter of independents said they accept all of what the Church teaches and try to reflect that in their lives, compared to 17% of Republicans and 11% of Democrats in the survey.

Republicans surveyed were slightly more likely to say they pray at least once per week, with 83% saying they did. Seventy-seven percent of Democrats and 75% of independents in the poll said the same.

Asked about issues of concern in the upcoming election, some 9 out of 10 Catholics polled - regardless of Mass attendance - said they were concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, health care, the economy and jobs.

On each of those issues, poll participants trusted Biden more than Trump. However, the divide between weekly Massgoers was narrower than among Catholics overall, and that demographic was split evenly in its trust of Biden and Trump on the economy.

On China trade policy, respondents were more likely to trust Trump than Biden.

Other significant issues for Catholics included civil unrest, over which 84% voiced concern, as well as race relations and immigration, which were each listed by just over three-fourths of poll participants as areas of concern. Sixty percent listed religious freedom as a concern in the upcoming election.

Catholics who attend Mass at least once per week were more likely to be concerned about race relations, immigration, and religious freedom than those who attend Mass less often.

 

Recalling the unlikely Ginsburg-Scalia friendship

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 19:15

Denver Newsroom, Sep 21, 2020 / 05:15 pm (CNA).- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week at age 87, is remembered as a hero of the political left— a self-described feminist who made a name for herself by advocating for women’s equality, and for socially liberal positions such as legalized abortion and same-sex marriage.

She was, in some ways, the last person you might expect to be close friends with a conservative, committed Catholic.

But in fact, Ginsburg had a warm friendship with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia— a conservative icon and devout Catholic, who died in 2016.

“Their friendship can offer Americans an important lesson in these tense times. They remind us that we share a lot more than politics,” Scalia’s son, Chris, told CNA late last year.

“There's a lot more to life than political opinion. It is possible to disagree with somebody, to have different outlooks on life and politics and the law and your profession, but focus instead on what you have in common, and the things in life that you both enjoy, and focus on those things, and develop a real friendship out of those things.”

Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of an Italian immigrant, and grew up in New York City. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986, and served until his death at age 79 in 2016.

Ginsburg also grew up in New York; she was born in 1933 and raised in a Jewish home. President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court in 1993.

Famously, Scalia and his wife would spend every New Years Eve throughout the 1980s with the Ginsburgs, Chris said, sometimes staying at their house talking, laughing, and debating until four in the morning.

Some years, Ginsburg’s husband would cook for dinner the venison that Scalia had gathered on his post-Christmas hunting trip.

In the minds of Scalia’s children, “the Ginsburgs were just this couple my parents got to know and really just enjoyed spending time with,” Chris said.

Another of Scalia’s sons, Fr. Paul, a priest of the diocese of Arlington, described his father as a strong personality, a strong intellect, and an unabashed contrarian who loved to debate.

“He was very much a ‘man in full’ as the saying goes, and had a broad variety of interests, from hunting and fishing to the opera,” Fr. Paul told CNA.

His father also was a proud Catholic, who loved the Mass, the liturgy, and the Church's intellectual tradition, the priest said.

Scalia’s love of debate was one of the things that drew him to Ginsburg— a woman with whom he disagreed on many things, including many aspects of the law. But Scalia admired Ginsburg’s determination, especially in an era when it was harder for women to achieve the career success that Ginsburg attained.

“She was a sparring partner with him…My father liked people who would match him, and who would push back,” Father Paul noted.

“He would hire clerks who would challenge him on things. He wanted that. He wanted that intellectual engagement, because he knew that it was good for him. It would test his line of thought and his principles.”

As the longest serving justice on the bench at the time of his death, Justice Scalia is remembered for his strong emphasis on interpreting the law as it was originally written and intended. Ginsburg, in contrast, believed in a “living Constitution” that could be adapted to the times. The two frequently criticized each other’s legal reasoning and opinions.

In their nearly 23 years together on the bench, they heard and debated hugely consequential cases having to do with such issues as abortion, same-sex marriage, and the 2000 presidential election.

When asked about their friendship in a 2014 interview, Justice Scalia seemed to brush off suggestions that it was somehow extraordinary.

“I have never gotten angry at Ruth or at any of my colleagues because of the way they voted in an opinion. I mean, if you cannot disagree with your colleagues on the law without taking it personally, you ought to get another day job,” Scalia said.

“It’s just not the kind of a job that will allow you to behave that way. Ruth and I disagree on the law all the time. It’s never had anything to do with our friendship.”

Another facet of the Scalia-Ginsburg friendship was a mutual sense of humor, Scalia’s sons said. Scalia possessed a rich sense of humor, and loved to sing and tell jokes.

“I think one of the reasons Justice Ginsburg liked my father is that he cracked her up...She said that very few people could make her laugh out loud; basically it was her husband, and my father,” Chris said.

Scalia and Ginsburg first struck up a friendship in the 1980s, when they served together on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Chris said Scalia used to whisper jokes to Ginsburg during arguments, and she would have to pinch herself to keep from laughing out loud.

When they again sat together on the bench, this time on the Supreme Court, Scalia would pass notes to Ginsburg with jokes or funny comments on them.

“I think it strikes us as weird in part because we live in such polarized times, and because they are themselves kind of heroes of very different sides— [Ginsburg] is a legend for the left, and my father is kind of the equivalent for the conservative legal movement. So I think that makes it even stranger to people,” Chris said.

“Obviously they had big differences as far as their jurisprudence went. But it’s really not that strange when you consider the many things they had in common.”

These similarities included growing up in New York around the same time, enjoying good food and wine, and a love of opera.

There even exists a comedic opera about the two justices, called Scalia/Ginsburg, written by a graduate of the Yale School of Music-turned-law school student. The opera includes many jokes and gags that riff on the two’s intellectual and philosophical differences, but also includes moments of unity between the two characters, including a heartwarming duet.

Obviously, there were elements of their worldviews— very significant elements— that Ginsburg and Scalia did not share. Scalia was a devout Catholic, and Ginsburg and her husband Marty were secular Jews.

Still, Father Paul noted that since Scalia was so committed to living out his faith, their friendship doubtless gave Ginsburg a chance to encounter a truly lived Catholicism— and it is clear that she respected that.

“I think my father was aware of giving good witness to the Catholic faith. That was part of who he was. So in his friendship with her, that was going to be part of it...And I think this is the beginning of evangelization: simply demonstrating the ability to be a serious Catholic, but also capable of friendship, and friendship with somebody who is different and who disagrees,” Father Paul said.

 

Knights of Columbus donates to vandalized Brooklyn parish

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 18:09

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 04:09 pm (CNA).- The Knights of Columbus has contributed thousands of dollars to a Brooklyn parish following an act of vandalism earlier this month.

The Knights of Columbus announced Sept. 21 a $10,000 donation to Our Lady of Solace Church. An unknown perpetrator destroyed a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the parish Sept. 11.

“The desecration of our Catholic statues and churches is a grievous crime against all people who value religious freedom,” said Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight.

“Together with Pope Francis, our bishops and faithful everywhere, we stand against violence, hatred and bigotry.”

Father Javier Flores, the parish administrator, said the gift was “overwhelming” and expressed hope that a replacement statue would be erected before Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast, Dec. 12.

The parish has been struggling financially since the pandemic has reduced tithing, WLNY reported.

According to the church’s security camera, a man climbed the fence in front of the church, toppled a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and then tossed the statue onto the sidewalk.

“Who knows mentally what’s going on with that person in that moment, but you don’t do stuff like that. This is vandalism,” said Coney Island resident Sara Marerro, according to WLNY.

Marerro said an onlooker tried to place the statue back in its proper place, and the two men got into an argument. 

“The other guy came trying to put the statue back. And that’s when they started fighting because the other guy, they were drunk,” Marerro said.

John Quaglione, deputy press secretary for the Diocese of Brooklyn, said the statue often attracts visitors, especially each Sept. 11

“To attack the Blessed Mother on 9/11 in broad daylight is not only brazen, it’s a direct assault of the people that were walking by that day wanted to have a moment of prayer to themselves, wanted to remember someone they may have lost,” Quaglione told WLNY.

The New York City Police Department has offered a $2,500 reward for any relevant information on the man who destroyed the statue.

Vandalism cases at Catholic churches have recently been on the rise throughout the United States.

Isaiah Cantrell, 30, was arrested after he walked into St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso Sept. 15 and proceeded to smash a nearly 90-year-old statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that was displayed behind the altar.

Chandler Johnson, 23, was arrested for vandalizing the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Tioga, La., Sept. 11. For over two hours, Johnson vandalized the church, breaking at least six windows, beating several metal doors, and destroying numerous statues around the parish grounds.

On July 10, a statue of the Virgin Mary at Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in Queens was defaced by graffiti. Security footage shows an individual approaching the 100-year-old statue shortly after 3 a.m. Friday morning and daubing the word “IDOL” down its length.

Will Catholics return to Mass after the pandemic? Many want to go more often

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 18:08

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 04:08 pm (CNA).- The coronavirus pandemic is affecting the way many Catholics think about their faith, a new study has found, and just over half of Catholic likely voters say that once restrictions are lifted, they plan to attend Mass more frequently than they did before the pandemic.

Sixty-four percent of Catholics surveyed said the pandemic has made them think “a lot” differently about what is important in life, while an additional 27% said it has had “some” impact on their perspective. Only 9% said the pandemic has not affected how they think about what is important in life.

The poll, conducted Aug. 27 - Sept. 1 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, surveyed 1,212 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.

Among poll participants, 36% said they attended Mass once or more per week before restrictions were placed on worship services due to the coronavirus. Another 42% said they attended Mass between once a month and once a year, and 22% said they attended Mass less than once per year.

Just over half of those surveyed said that once restrictions are lifted, they plan to attend Mass more frequently than they did before the pandemic. A little more than one-third said they will continue attending Mass with the same frequency, and about 1 in 8 said they will attend Mass less often than they did before.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said the coronavirus has made them think differently about their faith.

Hispanic respondents were most likely to say the pandemic has influenced how they view their faith, with 72% saying it has, compared to 54% of white non-Hispanics and 56% of Black non-Hispanics.

Of those who attended Mass at least once per week before virus restrictions were enacted, 73% said the pandemic has affected their view of their faith, compared to 58% of those who attended Mass monthly or yearly, and 48% who attended Mass less than once per year.

Overall, 44% said their faith has increased since the pandemic began, while 10% said their faith has decreased, and 46% said it has stayed about the same.

Nearly 1 in 5 young adults – those between 18 and 34 years old – said their faith has decreased during the pandemic, compared to fewer than 1 in 10 respondents age 35-54 and 1 in 25 over the age of 54.

Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they have found themselves closer to God during the pandemic, and 93% said they have grown closer to their family.

The inability to attend Mass due to restrictions put in place during the pandemic has been disturbing for the majority of Catholics surveyed. Overall, 71% said they found the experience distressing. Older respondents were more likely to be distressed by the inability to attend Mass than young adults were.

Frequency of Mass attendance before the pandemic was correlated with concern over having to miss Mass. However, even among those who said their Catholic faith has little to no influence in their life, the majority said they were distressed to be unable to attend Mass during the pandemic.

Fifty-eight percent of Catholics surveyed said they feel safe returning to Mass under the current conditions in their state. Comfort levels were highest in the Midwest and lowest in the Western region of the country.

Sixty-four percent of those who attended Mass at least once a week before the pandemic said they feel safe returning to church, compared to 45% of those who previously attended Mass monthly or yearly.

Two-thirds of white, non-Hispanic Catholics said they feel safe returning to Mass currently, while fewer than half of Black and Hispanic Catholics answered similarly.

Overall, 42% approve of how Donald Trump has responded to the pandemic, while 57% disapprove. Joe Biden’s approval rating on the pandemic was 48% among poll participants, with 36% disapproving.

The U.S. bishops’ response to the pandemic met with a 38% approval rating, while 22% said they disapproved. Another 40% were unsure of how to rate the bishops’ response.

 

Catholic judge Barbara Lagoa on the shortlist of Supreme Court nominees

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 17:05

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 03:05 pm (CNA).-  

President Donald Trump’s shortlist of potential nominees to the Supreme Court includes Judge Barbara Lagoa, a Catholic who has spoken about how her faith has shaped her legal career.

Lagoa, 52, was born in Miami and is the daughter of Cuban immigrants. Trump appointed Lagoa to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta in late 2019. She had previously served as a Justice on the Florida Supreme Court, the first Hispanic woman to do so.

President Donald Trump announced Monday that he would announce a nominee by Sept. 26 to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday evening at 87.

In addition to an existing White House list of two dozen potential Supreme Court nominees, Trump added 20 more names Sept. 9, including three sitting U.S. senators.

Trump said that he was “looking at five, probably four, but I'm looking at five very seriously” options to replace Ginsburg. Trump had also said he will nominate a woman for the position.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic, is widely reported to be the front-runner in the president’s deliberations regarding a nominee, but Lagoa is also on Trump’s shortlist, and Florida lawmakers are said to be advocating for her appointment.

Lagoa, who has three children, has spoken about the importance of the Catholic faith in her own life.

Speaking at an October 2019 dinner for the Thomas More Society, a Catholic lawyers’ organization, Lagoa praised the group’s namesake saint as a model for Catholic law professionals, who she said should not compartmentalize their professional lives from their spiritual lives.

“I suggest that in order to be a good Catholic advocate, one should start with St. Thomas More,” Lagoa told the attorneys. More, the patron saint of attorneys, is hailed for his commitment to his conscience and to Catholic doctrine, which lead eventually to martyrdom.

“It is more than going to Mass every Sunday, and to me at least, it means having a personal relationship with God that in turn informs how we treat others,” she said of her Catholic faith.

Following More’s humility in legal practice “starts with reminding ourselves, even when it is hardest, of the dignity of each human being — even the most difficult opposing counsel — and it also starts with reminding ourselves that none of us are perfect and that we ourselves can contribute to or exacerbate a difficult situation,” she said.

Lagoa also urged lawyers to ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the gifts of wisdom, counsel and fortitude, in daily life, according to the Florida Catholic.

Lagoa has also been outspoken about the importance of her own Catholic education, having attended Catholic elementary and high school in Miami.

As a Florida Supreme Court Justice, she took part in a major ruling reversing a judge’s decision striking down a Florida law that requires that people with past serious criminal convictions pay all fines, restitution and legal fees before regaining the right to vote, NBC News reported.

Lagoa is married and a mother of three.

"I think the most important thing I can tell women about their leadership roles is the thing I tell my three daughters, which is: do not be afraid of failure, do not be afraid to make mistakes, be bold, and take risks,” she said in an April 2019 interview.

“That's the one thing I can tell you about all women who are in positions of leadership; they all have taken risks...Nothing is ever perfect. Just do it, and you will be happy that you did. Maybe you will fail initially, but failure also leads to learning."

Since Justice Ginsburg’s death last week, pro-life and pro-abortion voices have made it clear that any nominee’s stance on abortion will be a key issue. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz has described Lagoa as “very pro-life, reliably pro-life.”

Lagoa said in written answers to the Senate upon her nomination to the appeals court that she believes Roe v. Wade is “settled law” and that as an appellate court judge, she “would faithfully follow it as I would follow all precedent of the Supreme Court.”

“I am particularly mindful of the fact that under our constitutional system, it is for the legislature, and not the courts, to make the law. It is the role of judges to apply, not to alter, the work of the people's representatives. And it is the role of judges to interpret our constitution and our statutes as they are written,” Lagoa said in a speech after being appointed to the Florida Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade and removes the inferred constitutional protection for abortion, the legality of abortion would be subject to state-by-state regulation.

As many as a dozen states, including New York and California, have enshrined a right to abortion in their own constitutions. Other states, such as Arkansas, have “trigger laws” on the books that would automatically ban abortion entirely if the case were overturned.

On Saturday, Americans United for Life, a major pro-life organization, endorsed Judge Barrett and urged President Trump to nominate her.

Trump’s likely nomination of a Supreme Court Justice to replace Ginsburg has become a matter of political controversy, in an already fractious U.S. political and social context.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged Friday that a Trump Supreme Court nominee will be voted on for confirmation by the United States Senate, even while there are fewer than seven weeks until the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Democratic leaders have pushed back, and pointed to McConnell’s refusal to consider Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in March 2016, seven months before that year’s presidential contest. At the time, Republicans said that it would be more appropriate to wait until after the November election to fill the Court vacancy.

McConnell defended his decision Friday night, saying that “in the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.”

Supreme Court: Full docket of religious liberty cases during nomination fight

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 15:00

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- As the Trump Administration looks to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, the coming judicial session features a slate packed with religious freedom cases.

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday created the first opening on the Court during a fall or spring term since 2017; the Court’s opening conference for the fall is on Sept. 29.

The Court also announced on Sept. 16 that it will begin its fall term hearing oral arguments telephonically and not in-person, a continuation of its extraordinary policy from last spring that was due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Perhaps the most notable religious freedom case this term, that of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, will be heard on Nov. 4. A decision could impact faith-based adoption and foster care agencies around the country which are affected by state and local non-discrimination ordinances.

In 2018, the city of Philadelphia notified Catholic Social Services with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, as well as Bethany Christian Services, that their policies of not working with same-sex couples on foster care placements were discriminatory; the city stopped contracting with both services.

Later in the year, Bethany Christian said that while the organization’s religious beliefs on marriage remained the same, it would begin working with same-sex couples. Catholic Social Services, however, did not alter its policy and has not had any new foster care placements through the city.

Sharonell Fulton and Toni Simms-Busch, who have fostered more than 40 children and who partnered with Catholic Social Services, brought the case against the city that is currently before the Supreme Court.

Another religious freedom case pending before the Supreme Court, Dalberiste v. GLE Associates, involves a lawsuit by a Seventh-Day Adventist, Mitche Dalberiste, who is seeking a religious accommodation for the technician job for which he was hired.

The job reportedly required employees to serve 12-hour shifts seven days a week for a period of time, but Dalberiste requested leave from sundown on Fridays until sundown on Saturdays, to observe the Sabbath. He filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) when the job offer was rescinded.

Becket is also representing three Muslim men, Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah, and Naveed Shinwari, who were placed on the FBI’s No-Fly list in order to pressure them to act as informants on Muslim communities.

Becket is arguing that individual government officials can be held liable for damages in Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) cases, or where they unlawfully violate someone’s religious freedom.

The group Alliance Defending Freedom is also bringing a college free speech case to the Court, and is petitioning for the Court to consider a pro-life speech case.

In Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, a student at Georgia Gwinnett College sued over the college’s restrictions on the space where he could evangelize fellow students; while using the limited space, he was also told by a campus police officer to stop and was charged with “disorderly conduct.” The school altered its policy, but Uzuegbunam sued, alleging the previous violation of his free speech.

There are also multiple cases which the Supreme Court has not yet taken up, but which Becket and others are asking it to consider.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is asking the Supreme Court to hear the case of Nikki Bruni and other pro-life sidewalk counselors, who has challenged Pittsburgh’s 15-foot “buffer zone” outside abortion clinics; they were banned from speaking with women or praying within the zone, which included sidewalks and streets.

ADF has also petitioned the Court to consider the case of the Michigan non-profit Thomas More Law Center, which litigates religious freedom, family, and life issues. 

In 2012, the California attorney general’s office demanded that the center provide the names and addresses of its California supporters.

Proclaim 'universality of salvation', Archbishop Gomez says at immigrant Mass

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 12:23

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 10:23 am (CNA).- The US needs to hear the proclamation of the unity of nations and the universality of salvation, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles preached Sunday during a Mass recognizing immigrants.

“In this moment, I believe God is calling our immigrant Church to be a light to our immigrant nation,” the archbishop said during his homily during Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles Sept. 20.

“He is calling us to proclaim what St. Paul proclaimed, what the Catholic Church has proclaimed since the day of Pentecost – the unity of the nations, the universality of salvation. The mercy and forgiveness of God that is available to every person, of every nation under heaven.”

He continued: “Our great nation still needs to hear this good news! That no matter what the color of your skin, or the blood of your race, or the language you speak – you are a child of God. And Jesus Christ died for you, offered his body and blood for you.”

The Mass of the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time was said “in Recognition of All Immigrants”.

It came amid the Archdiocese of Los Angeles' Sept. 18-26 novena meant to prepare for the 2020 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, observed Sept. 27. The archdiocese has held an annual Day in Recognition of All Immigrants since 2013.

The celebration includes a 60-mile walking pilgrimage tracing the path St. Junipero Serra walked as he founded the first nine mission churches of California.

Archbishop Gomez preached that the Mass was held “to praise God our Father and celebrate our identity as children of God whom he has called from every nation and race to build his Kingdom here in our country.”

The reading at Mass tell us “that our lives have a purpose in [Christ's] plan of love.”

The meaning of our lives is that “we belong to God. He gives us life so that we can serve Christ, so that we can labor and bear fruit in his vineyard, which is the Kingdom that he has planted and is growing in the world.”

“God is One and the human race that he created is one,” he excaimed. “But he creates us as 'many' – many races, many nationalities, many languages, and ethnic cultures.”

God delights in humans' “variety and diversity,” the archbishop said. “And yet, for all this diversity that we can see in God’s vineyard, we are still one. One people, one family.”

He said St. Paul preached that God is Lord over every nation, and that we are his children.

“In this moment in God’s vineyard in America, I think this is a powerful message that our Lord is calling us to bring to our neighbors,” Archbishop Gomez said.

He reflected on the current conversation about racism in America, and said the Church is to be a light amid it.

“In Christ we have one love, one hope, one destiny. And in Christ, we have one calling.We are called to this beautiful duty to live for him and to share his teaching, to bear fruit for his vineyard, his Kingdom.”

The archbishop said that “no matter who you are or how you came here, today once more he is sending you into his vineyard. We have a responsibility … He is sending each of us into this vineyard in this moment to labor for unity and justice, for the right to life, for equal opportunity and freedom for every person.”

The labor of the vineyard is first of all internal, Archbishop Gomez said: “We need to root out all the intolerance and envy and selfishness from our hearts … Let’s ask for the grace to love with a generous love, to show the same mercy and forgiveness to others as God shows to us. We need to build strong communities and strong families; we need to raise up our children to love and serve the Lord.”

He added that he dreams that the archdiocese will “have vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life coming from every race and nationality to serve all people!”

“This is the great mission that we have as Catholics, as the Church in this moment. Let us go out today into his vineyard and let us renew our country in the beautiful vision of God and make America truly a home for peoples of all nations and races,” the archbishop concluded.

Trump to announce Supreme Court nominee by Saturday

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 12:00

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 21, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he expects to name his nominee for the Supreme Court by the end of the week. The nomination, Trump’s third to the highest court, follows the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose funeral services will be held this week. 

Speaking to the television program “Fox & Friends,” President Trump said that he is “going to make a decision on either Friday or Saturday,” and that he “will announce it either Friday or Saturday, and then the work begins.” The president added that he would not make the announcement earlier “in all due respect” for the late justice’s memorial arrangements. 

Justice Ginsburg died September 18, at the age of 87. She had previously been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Trump said that he was “looking at five, probably four, but I'm looking at five very seriously” options to replace Ginsburg. Previously, Trump had said he would nominate a woman for the position. 

He said two of the people he was considering were “fantastic,” but did not elaborate further. 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced on Monday that Ginsburg will lie in state at the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol on Friday, following two days of lying in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday. Ginsburg will lie underneath the Portico, and the public will be permitted to view the casket outdoors. 

As per tradition, Ginsburg’s former law clerks will serve as her honorary pallbearers. 

According to the New York Times, Ginsburg will be buried in a private ceremony alongside her husband at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic mother of seven, is widely reported to be the front-runner on the president’s shortlist of prospective nominees.

Barrett, a federal judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, is reported to lead the president’s short list, and was also a contender for Trump’s second Supreme Court nomination in 2018, before the president nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

According to Axios, Trump in 2018 said of Barrett that he was “saving her for Ginsburg” in explanation of his decision not to appoint her to the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Appointed a federal judge in 2017, Barrett had been a professor at Notre Dame’s law school until her nomination was confirmed. Barrett has twice been honored as “Distinguished Professor of the Year” at Notre Dame, and was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

As a nominee to the federal bench, Barrett was pointedly questioned by Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee in 2017 on how her Catholic faith would influence her decisions as a judge on cases of abortion and same-sex marriage.

During confirmation hearings, Senator Diane Feinstein said of Barrett's Catholicism “the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”

“You’re controversial because many of us that have lived our lives as women really recognize the value of finally being able to control our reproductive systems,” she said. “And Roe entered into that, obviously.”

Barrett repeatedly said that as a judge, she would uphold the law of the land, but many pro-life groups believe she would be open to overturning the precedent of Roe vs. Wade, and uphold state restrictions on abortion.

Bishop Burbidge: The pandemic is our ‘Pentecost moment’

Sun, 09/20/2020 - 18:12

CNA Staff, Sep 20, 2020 / 04:12 pm (CNA).- In a pastoral letter this past week, Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia said the coronavirus pandemic has prompted advances in sharing the Gospel message digitally, leading the Church to a “21st century Pentecost moment.”

“God is with us. This is the message of hope that we want to shout from the rooftops, that we want to beam over the airwaves, that we want to put on the front page of our publications and post on our social media accounts. Emmanuel: God is with us,” Burbidge wrote Sept. 15, in a letter entitled, "In Tongues, All Can Hear."

“The trauma of the pandemic, as well as the economic upheaval that has followed, has been and continues to be an opportunity for the Church to seize the moment...The Spirit has and will continue to enable the Church, even in a time of lockdown and isolation, to help us overcome our feelings of fear, loneliness, and vulnerability by reminding us that God is with us, always.”

The current pandemic, which has led to physical separation between people, in some ways mirrors the situation in which many of the first Christians found themselves, he said.

“Christians were apart in the distant communities of the first century, in isolation as prisoners for the faith locked away in cells and awaiting execution, or in remote communities far from a priest or the sacraments for extended periods of time,” he noted.

Despite this, the Christian community at the time remained spiritually close through communication and prayers for one another. In the same way, Catholics have found creative ways to communicate during the current pandemic— particularly through digital means such as livestreaming and social media— and to remain spiritually close, the bishop said.

“At a time when many felt alone, the gifts of the Church were made available to them in new ways,” he said, mentioning the many creative ways priests have managed to bring the sacraments— including the Eucharist, Confession, and Anointing of the Sick— to people during the pandemic.

The first followers of Christ communicated by deeds, Burbidge said, setting an example with their joy, sincerity, and their treatment of one another. They also proclaimed the Gospel with words, inviting people to join them and challenging the authorities to change their behavior.

The bishop pointed particularly to the example of St. Paul, who traveled relentlessly, preaching to Jewish and Gentile communities, debating Athens’ worldly philosophers, and addressing Roman authorities.

When authorities threatened the apostles, ordering them to cease preaching in public about the Good News of the Lord, Sts. Peter and John replied: “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

The manner of fulfilling the Great Commission has evolved over the years, Burbidge noted, but the mandate itself, to proclaim the Kingdom, has never changed.

Despite advances in mass communication over the years, the proclamation of the Gospel remained, essentially, “the few talking to the many.” With the advent of the digital revolution, Burbidge said, the Church saw both risks and opportunities in the internet, social media, and the like, which can allow for evangelization but also bullying and manipulation.

Digital communication “appeals to the best and worst of human nature,” he said.

“The Church recognized that special effort would be necessary by all her members to use these tools effectively and wisely, so that true and accurate information would not get lost in a sea of misinformation and opinion,” he said.

“This is a critical time for the Church, beset as she is by many of the same stresses that are affecting secular institutions. Yet it is important that the Church maintain and develop the capacity to tell her story.”

This “21st century Pentecost moment” brought on by the pandemic, Burbidge said, has underscored the need for good communication in the Church across all forms of media, in order to invite people into the fullness of the Gospel.

“New forms of media cannot be the only tools we use,” he clarified. “The Church has communicated and evangelized over the centuries, using all available means to mobilize and inspire, to inform and explain. Some tools are good for mobilizing people. Other tools are good for informing, forming, and educating at greater depth, teaching Catholics to see the world through eyes of faith.”

“The Good News of the Gospel will set us free, but it is not to be marketed like a consumer product or adapted without thought to the razzle-dazzle of new technologies,” he said. “It is not propaganda. It is not spin. While the Church embraces new means of communication, she must not be enslaved by trends nor edit her message to be more popular or fashionable.”

 

 

 

 

Archbishop Cordileone: San Francisco Mass restrictions ‘mocking God’

Sun, 09/20/2020 - 16:00

CNA Staff, Sep 20, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- Catholics in San Francisco marched in Eucharistic processions across the city on Sunday to protest the city’s continued restrictions on public worship.

“For months I have pleaded with the City on your behalf, advocating for your need of the consolation of the Mass, and the consolation you derive from the practice of your faith and connection with your faith community. City Hall ignored us,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said in his homily at an outdoor Mass following the processions Sept. 20.

“It has become clear to me that they just don’t care about you...We have been patiently putting up with unjust treatment long enough, and now it is time to come together to witness to our faith and to the primacy of God, and tell City Hall: No More!”

San Francisco’s restrictions on public worship remain among the strictest in the country. Mayor London Breed announced last week that starting Sept. 14, houses of worship may have 50 people at religious services outdoors. In addition, indoor private prayer is allowed, but only one person at a time is allowed inside.

Breed also said the city will allow indoor services up to a maximum of 25 people by Oct. 1. This is, Cordileone has noted, less than 1% of the capacity of San Francisco’s cathedral.

Previously, the limit for outdoor services had been 12 people, with all indoor services prohibited. The archdiocese covers the city and county of San Francisco— where the cathedral is located— as well as San Mateo and Marin counties.

In contrast, hotels in San Francisco are fully reopened; indoor gyms are set to reopen at 10% capacity; and most retail stores are allowed to operate at 50% capacity, while malls are restricted to 25%. Gyms operated in government buildings for police officers and other government employees have already reopened.

In addition, Archbishop Cordileone has noted, businesses requiring extended, close one-on-one contact reopened Sept. 14, such as hair salons, nail salons and massage parlors, but “we are allowed only one person in church at a time for prayer.”

“One person at a time in this great Cathedral to pray? What an insult. This is a mockery. They are mocking you, and even worse, they are mocking God,” Cordileone said.

Three separate Eucharistic processions Sept. 20 began at St. Anthony, St. Patrick, and Star of the Sea parishes, and converged at United Nations Plaza near San Francisco City Hall before proceeding to the cathedral.

The archdiocese ordered banners for parishioners to carry during the processions; 100 in English, 15 in Spanish, and 5 in Chinese that read: “We Are Essential: Free the Mass!”

At the 11 am Mass celebrated by Archbishop Cordileone, and additional Masses celebrated simultaneously in the cathedral plaza, all 900 spaces prepared for the outdoor Masses were filled, with additional people lining the sidewalks. An archdiocesan spokesperson told CNA that she estimated about 1,500 people were in attendance.

Cordileone said his time as a pastor at a rural, desert parish near the US-Mexico border taught him that caring for the rejected and the downtrodden in society, in this case undocumented immigrants, is an essential part of the Church’s mission.

”The highest law is love of God and love of neighbor, and that law has to take precedence over the human-made law of the state when government would ask us to turn our backs on God or our neighbor in need,” he noted.

“Now in San Francisco, all of us here are being put at the end of the line.  No matter how rich or poor, no matter whether newly arrived or from families that have been here for many generations, it is our Catholic faith that unites us, and it is because of our Catholic faith that we are being put at the end of the line.”

Priests at many parishes around the archdiocese, including the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, are celebrating multiple Masses every Sunday— outside, and spaced out— in order to adapt to the restrictions.

Outdoor Masses pose their own health challenges, as the Bay Area is experiencing some of the worst air quality in the world, due to smoke and other pollutants coming from wildfires ravaging the West Coast.

While Cordileone has said city officials have been “cordial and respectful” in their dialogue with the archdiocese, he said the city still has not responded to the archdiocese’s safety plan— outlining how churches could be safely opened for indoor services— which they submitted in May.

Becket, a religious liberty law firm, has a page tracking restrictions on public worship related to the pandemic. By their estimation, six states— California, Nevada, Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maine— are treating religious activities unequally as compared to similar secular activities.

The City of San Francisco has been closely monitoring Catholic churches in the city and has repeatedly issued warnings to the archdiocese for apparent health order violations

Cordileone said he himself has noted “very few” violations of the city’s health orders by parishes in the archdiocese, although the few that have occurred have garnered heavy criticism in the secular press.

“This willful discrimination is affecting us all. Yes, discrimination, because there is no other word for it,” Cordileone said. 

“We ask: why can people shop at Nordstrom’s at 25% capacity but only one of you at a time is allowed to pray inside of this great Cathedral, your Cathedral?  Is this equality?  No, there is no reason for this new rule except a desire to put Catholics – to put you – at the back of the line.”

Cordileone encouraged Catholics to continue to pray, suggesting the rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, fasting on Fridays, and availing themselves of the sacrament of confession.

In advocating for a safe reopening of indoor Masses, Cordileone has cited a recent article on Mass attendance and COVID-19, authored Aug. 19 by doctors Thomas McGovern, Deacon Timothy Flanigan, and Paul Cieslak for Real Clear Science.

By following public health guidelines, Catholic Churches have largely avoided viral spread during the more than 1 million Masses that have been celebrated across the United States since the lifting of shelter-in-place orders, the doctors found.

They said in their article that there is no evidence that church services are higher risk than similar activities when guidelines are followed, and no coronavirus outbreaks have not yet been linked to the celebration of the Mass.

Even while protesting the city’s apparent unequal application of health restrictions, the archbishop has encouraged his priests to lead their parishes in following the city’s guidelines.

Many of San Francisco’s problems, from homelessness to drugs to crime, stem from an abandonment of God, he said.

“Our blessed Lord is openly mocked to the gleeful grins of the cultural elites. The sacred symbol of the religious habit is blasphemed with glowing approval of those who profess mutual respect and tolerance for others who are different, while they openly discriminate against us.”

“In fighting for justice, we fight for the glory of God. And so I am calling on every Catholic in this City, and this country, to continue to exercise responsible citizenship, to abide by reasonable public health rules, and to continue to serve our community, despite the mockery to which we are being subject in so many different ways. This is God’s way, and this is how I see Catholics serving Our Lord.”

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