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Maryland bishops call for compassion, prudence on immigration

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 00:58

Baltimore, Md., Jun 1, 2017 / 10:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Maryland Catholic Conference has issued a statement of guiding principles for Catholics and state legislators to better encounter immigrants with compassion in both personal and political arenas.

Members of the Maryland community, they said, should encounter migrants with “a spirit of compassion, prudence, and cooperation to address the challenges faced by immigrants, elected officials, law enforcement and our communities as a whole.”

The May 30 document, signed by bishops in Maryland, Washington, and Delaware, refers to immigration enforcement on local and federal levels.

The bishops encouraged politicians and legislators to foster a spirit of equality throughout the state and trust among migrant communities, while at the same time ensuring that civil authorities stand against criminal activity.

“Build trust with our immigrant communities by establishing a clear division of duties between local law enforcement and federal immigration agents so that immigrants feel safe reporting crimes and cooperating in police investigations,” they advised.

In addition, consequences for violating the law should be clearly defined, said the bishops, to ensure that the laws are equally applied to everyone. Pointing to Fourth Amendment protections, they decried searches of individuals or homes without probable cause, and arrests superseding the normal procedures.

Additionally, the bishops asked for priority to be given to working families who are taking care of children and protection to be given to community programs, so as not to hinder migrants from congregating at churches, schools, and other community gatherings.

Beyond the realms of legislation and politics, the bishops encouraged the people of Maryland to participate in dialogue while respecting different opinions. This, they said, will allow people to “learn firsthand about their hopes and dreams, fears and sorrows,” as well as the root causes of immigration.

Relationships should be built between citizens and immigrants, but the bishops also stressed the need for reconciliation between opposing opinions, an already “passionate debate” raising controversy at state and national levels.  

A personal relationship between opposite sides in the debate will not only create a greater understanding, but will also enable honest interaction in the political arena, the bishops said. They encouraged Catholics to communicate opinions to elected officials instead of shying away from confrontation or dominating debates with emotionally charged opinions.

At the end of the guideline document, the bishops thanked immigrants for their inspirational examples and strong family values.

“We pledge through our parishes and institutions to minister to you as you learn a new language; as you seek employment, shelter, food, clothing and healthcare; and as you celebrate your faith in a loving God,” they said.

The guidelines were released amidst a strict interpretation of immigration policies by the Trump administration, affecting both federal and local ordinances.

A bill that is currently under consideration would allow correctional officers in Baltimore County to screen arrested individuals for their citizen status. Afterwards, the individual would be referred into immigration proceedings by an official of immigration enforcement. Frederick and Harford counties are already participating in the federal program, with others counties expected to join soon.

The County Council is expected to vote on the bill on June 5, however it already faces opposition, and the County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has promised to veto the bill if it is passed.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, migrant-based arrests have increased by nearly 38 percent since this time last year and over 41,000 immigrants have been detained so far. Outlined in the 2018 budget blueprint, President Donald Trump has requested an increase in federal funding for border security and immigration enforcement by $2.7 billion.


Lawsuit says farmer's market wrongly barred Catholic farmer

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 22:01

Lansing, Mich., Jun 1, 2017 / 08:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic farmer Steve Tennes says the city of East Lansing, Mich. illegally barred his family-run farm from the city farmer's market because of his family's religious beliefs about marriage.

“We have attended the City of East Lansing Farmer's Market for the past seven years. We have always lovingly provided everything we grow and make at our farm to customers of all beliefs and backgrounds,” Tennes' Country Mill Farms said on its Facebook page May 31.

“We enjoyed a great working relationship with the City of East Lansing up until 2016 when city officials learned about our family's religious beliefs that we stated on our Facebook page.”

The farm, based outside the city in Charlotte, Mich., charged that city officials' new policy bars them from the market “solely because we publicly stated beliefs that they do not like.”

Tennes' farm has filed a lawsuit against the city in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Michigan with the aid of the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.

Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, explained the complaint.

“This lawsuit simply asks the court to uphold that freedom for a Catholic farmer, who should be free to sell his produce without coercion, discrimination, or intimidation by the government because of his beliefs about marriage,” Tedesco said.

“The city must respect Steve's constitutionally protected freedom to express his religious beliefs on social media sites without being forced to surrender his right to participate in the marketplace.”

The lawsuit charged that the city policy violated free speech, freedom of religion and equal protection. It asks the federal court to halt the policy and award nominal and compensatory damages.

The farm has hosted wedding ceremonies in its orchard, but reconsidered its policy last year. On Aug. 24, 2016, Tennes posted on the farm's Facebook page saying that due to the owners' personal religious beliefs any requests to celebrate he would refer any requests for a same-sex ceremony to another nearby orchard.

After an East Lansing official saw the post, officials told Country Mill Farms they did not want it to be present at the farmer's market scheduled the following Sunday. According to the lawsuit, officials said that they had received complaints about Tennes' post and that protests against the market would occur. They urged the farm to withdraw from the market immediately.

Tennes nonetheless took his farm's produce to the market. There were no protests.

Another Facebook post in December 2016 said that wedding ceremonies would resume at the farm's orchard, explaining: “It remains our deeply held religious belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and Country Mill has the First Amendment Right to express and act upon its beliefs. For this reason, Country Mill reserves the right to deny a request for services that would require it to communicate, engage in, or host expression that violates the owners' sincerely held religious beliefs and conscience.”

The message also said its religious beliefs include that all people should be treated with respect and dignity.

That post caused East Lansing officials to think Tennes' views conflicted with the city's view of marriage and sexual orientation, expressed in its Human Relations Ordinance. The ordinance could not be enforced against the farms. According to Alliance Defending Freedom, officials then made a new policy requiring vendors to comply with the ordinance and anti-discrimination policy “while at the market and as a general business practice.”

The new policy bars making a statement that “indicates that an individual's patronage or presence at a place of public accommodation” is “unwelcome or acceptable” for certain classes, including sexual orientation or gender identity.

When Country Mill Farms applied to participate in the 2017 farmer's market, a city official sent a letter telling Tennes that he was prohibited from participating because he was not in compliance with the new policy. It included an attachment of his December Facebook post.

In a May 31 statement responding to the lawsuit, the City of East Lansing said Country Mill Farms “advertised that their business practice is to prohibit same-sex couples from holding weddings at their orchard,” in violation of the city policy.

“Their business practices violate the City of East Lansing’s long-standing ordinance that protects sexual orientation as well as the Supreme Court’s ruling that grants the right for same-sex couples to be married,” the city claimed.

Alliance Defending Freedom charged that the new policy exceeded the city's jurisdiction and did not define “discrimination” or any key terms relevant for enforcement.

“All Steve wants to do is sell his food to anyone who wants to buy it, but the city isn’t letting him,” said Kate Anderson, legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom.

“People of faith, like the Tennes family, should be free to live and work according to their deeply held beliefs without fear of losing their livelihood. If the government can shut down a family farmer just because of the religious views he expresses on Facebook – by denying him a license to do business and serve fresh produce to all people – then no American is free.”

Priest plants himself at popular music festival, goes viral on Reddit

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 18:24

Napa, Calif., Jun 1, 2017 / 04:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- What’s a good way to reach a lot of young people all at once?

Plant yourself at an entrance of a popular music festival with a sign, some free stuff, and a smile.

That’s what Catholic priest Fr. David Jenuwine did last weekend, at BottleRock Napa, a three-day music festival with roughly 30,000 in attendance.

His sign read simply: Catholic priest. Blessings, Prayers, Confessions, Answers.

Fr. Jenuwine, parochial vicar at St. Apollinaris Parish in Napa, California, told CNA that he had been trying to brainstorm creative ways to reach out to young adults when he heard about the music festival. He said he was inspired after hearing a talk on evangelization a few weeks ago by EWTN personality Fr. Mitch Pacwa.

“My youth minister said well, BottleRock is this weekend, but it’s chaos,” he said.

“And I went, alright, let’s do it!”  

Fr. Jenuwine placed himself on one side of the festival, while his St. Paul Street Evangelization team camped out on the other side. They prayed for 20 minutes before the Blessed Sacrament before hitting the streets, “begging for the graces we need and to get ourselves in the zone,” Father said.

Besides prayers and answers, they offered rosaries, prayer cards and miraculous medals. They went fast.

“That first night we gave away every rosary, every prayer card, every miraculous medal we had, but sure enough we found more, so we went out again Sunday,” Fr. Jenuwine said.

They stayed at the festival for about five hours on Saturday, and another couple hours on Sunday.

The responses varied widely, the priest said.

“I pretty much just made eye contact with people and said ‘Hi, how’re you doing?’” Father recalled. “And some people were like, ‘Is he really a priest?’”

Others greeted him warmly: “Hi Father! Nice to see you out here.”

Some were more skeptical. When one of the St. Paul team handed out a rosary, the recipient asked, “Does it come with a lecture?”

“There was one guy who said, ‘What are you bringing this here for?’” Father recalled.

“And I said, ‘We’re here to tell you God loves you.’ And he said, ‘I already know that.’ So I said, ‘Well good! You’re one of the few’.”

Others tried to avoid him by pulling out their phones and pretending to be busy.

“But even in that, if they were purposely ignoring us then we made an impression, because they knew we were out there,” he said.  

There were also some people who got blessings on Saturday that came back for another on Sunday.

“There were some people getting out of their Uber and they said, ‘Hey he’s still here! Father, can we get a blessing?’”

“I even heard a couple confessions,” he said, though the confessees were people he already knew.

And although he advertised “answers” on his sign, there was one thing people asked that Father didn’t know: “Where is the parking lot?”

“I said I promised I’d try, but I do not know where the parking is,” Father said, laughing.

His youth minister, Dominic Figueroa, snapped a photo of Father hanging out under his street lamp with his sign, and Father posted it on Facebook. Yesterday, friends started to realize that the post was trending on Reddit. It now has more than 640 votes and nearly 100 comments.

It’s an evangelization experience that he and his St. Paul team are looking to do again. They already have an event scoped out this weekend.

“I think we made a little splash,” Father said. “In a sense, this kind of started something for us.”

The biggest takeaway, he said, was “how easy it was.”

“I think too often we get tied up in planning, planning, planning. But when the Spirit moves, go with Him! No excuses.”


Catholic leaders dismayed by Trump's exit from Paris climate agreement

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 17:49

Washington D.C., Jun 1, 2017 / 03:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic leaders around the world expressed disappointment as President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the U.S. was pulling out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

“The decision now, to pull out, this for us is something we hoped would not have happened,” Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told reporters on Wednesday.

“It’s a global public good that needs to be taken care of,” he continued, speaking at a media briefing before he addressed an audience Wednesday evening at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. on “Vatican Perspectives on Care for Creation, Economic Injustice, the Refugee Crisis, and Peace.”

Also in advance of President Trump’s announcement on Thursday afternoon, a U.S. bishop pressed the government to honor its commitment to the Paris climate agreement.

The Paris Agreement was an international climate accord reached in 2015 after representatives of over 150 countries met for COP 21, or the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Countries pledged on various levels to help reduce global carbon emissions and aim to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius, as compared to average temperatures from the pre-industrial age, by the end of the 21st century.

Pope Francis had written his ecology encyclical Laudato Si in advance of the climate agreement, noted Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, chair of the U.S. bishops’ International Justice and Peace Committee.

It “was timed in order to urge the nations of the world to work together in Paris for an agreement that protects our people and our planet,” he said. “Our Conference of Bishops has vigorously promoted the teaching of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, on care for our common home.”

When the agreement was reached in 2015, Pope Francis hailed it as “historic” and said that it would require “a concerted and generous commitment” from members of the international community. Over 190 countries have signed on to the agreement.

On Thursday afternoon in the White House Rose Garden, President Trump announced that the U.S. was pulling out of the agreement, citing its detrimental effects on U.S. energy and American businesses.

“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” he stated, adding that the U.S. would “begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord” or conduct an “entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its people, its taxpayers.”

The 2015 agreement was “simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries,” he stated, criticizing its “draconian financial and economic burdens” including the Green Climate Fund and the “nationally determined contribution” of the U.S.

Nevertheless, Catholic leaders insisted that as a world leader, the U.S. must lead by example in taking measures to curb its pollution and carbon emissions. On Thursday, Bishop Cantu called Trump’s decision “deeply troubling.”

“The Scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and caring for each other in solidarity. The Paris agreement is an international accord that promotes these values,” he said.

“The impacts of climate change are already being experienced in sea level rise, glacial melts, intensified storms, and more frequent droughts. I can only hope that the President will propose concrete ways to address global climate change and promote environmental stewardship.”  

Catholic Relief Services, a global Catholic aid agency, said that the decision of a world power to renege on promises to cut carbon emissions and pollution could result in higher temperatures and ultimately hurt the world’s poor who are the most vulnerable to climate change.

“As an international humanitarian organization, we are confronted with the realities of climate change every day and see the devastating impact on the lives of the people we serve,” Bill O’Keefe, vice president for advocacy and government relations for CRS, stated on Thursday.  

For instance, CRS noted, “in Bangladesh, rising sea levels are encroaching on water tables and swallowing coastal homes. In Central America, coffee farmers are losing their crops due to more frequent drought and because warmer temperatures help pests thrive.”

Cardinal Turkson said on Wednesday that he respected Trump’s decision but hopes for future dialogue and a change of policy.

“We will still respect the sovereign decision of any sovereign state,” he said. “We just hope in this regard that even this decision will not be the last.”

In February, Bishop Cantu had joined Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, chair of the U.S. bishops’ domestic justice and human development committee, and the president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services Sean Callahan in writing a letter to new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, exhorting him to honor the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement.

“In 2015, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops affirmed that funding for climate change related adaptation and mitigation programs as part of the Paris agreement – especially through the GCF – is urgently needed if we are to meet our common and differentiated responsibilities for the effects of climate change,” they stated. The U.S. must also effort to reduce its own carbon emissions, they added.

“The Paris agreement is a key step towards both these goals,” they said.

In lecture at Boston College in the fall of 2015, Cardinal Turkson explained that, according to the encyclical Laudato Si, developed nations should shoulder a greater burden in fighting climate change than poorer, developing countries.

Pope Francis, he said, “insists that the global north has been a disproportionate consumer of creation’s goods and contributor to ecological harm; therefore it must repay its ‘ecological debt’ to the global south.”


Planned Parenthood's services are declining...except for abortion

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 08:02

Washington D.C., Jun 1, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The controversial abortion provider Planned Parenthood has lost over half a million unique patients in five years, but its abortion figures remain the same – a consistency its critics have blasted.

“While non-abortion services are declining, Planned Parenthood continues to perform a record number of abortions – over 300,000 per year,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, Susan B. Anthony List president.

“They've performed more than 1.6 million abortions in the last five years alone.”

The pro-life group, citing the abortion provider's own annual reports, said that in the period from 2011-2016 Planned Parenthood's number of unique patients have dropped by 600,000, a 20 percent decline. Cancer screenings have halved, while contraceptive services are down 18 percent. STD screenings have dropped five percent.

At the same time, its abortion numbers are stable. In the last five years, Planned Parenthood performed about 11,290 adoption referrals total. That makes a ratio of 145 abortions for each adoption referral.

“Women are turning away from abortion giant Planned Parenthood,” Dannenfelser said. “It's time to re-direct Planned Parenthood’s funding to community health centers.”

“Taxpayers would be disentangled from the grisly abortion industry and get a better return on their investment in women’s health,” she said.

While the abortion provider enjoyed protection and influence under the Obama administration, the U.S. House of Representatives has now passed a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood for one year. The proposal would shift $422 million to community health care centers.

The Susan B. Anthony List backs the shift, saying that community health centers have strong bipartisan support and work in under-served communities. The centers provide mammograms, mental heath services, and other care for women that is not available at Planned Parenthood.

The abortion provider's latest annual report said its website has received nearly 70 million visitors from 2015-2016. The report claims 75 percent of Americans support continued Medicaid reimbursement for preventive care at Planned Parenthood.

The report describes attacks on Planned Parenthood as having reached “fever pitch,” citing “a record number of state laws” regulating abortion. The organization claimed to have nearly 650 Planned Parenthood health centers in the year 2015.

The organization is struggling in some parts of the country. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains recently announced the closure of six facilities in its region due to financial concerns, including its only Wyoming clinic. Four Iowa facilities will also close.

The abortion provider is under scrutiny after the release of investigative reports beginning in 2015 appearing to show Planned Parenthood leaders involved in the illegal sale of unborn baby parts and other fetal tissue for profit. The reports prompted a multi-million dollar damage control campaign from Planned Parenthood and its allies like the Open Society Foundations, the Hewlett Foundation and the Democracy Alliance, records from the Open Society Foundations indicate.

Flying on Sunday? Many airport chapels offer Mass

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 02:07

Washington D.C., Jun 1, 2017 / 12:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Flying on Sunday and need a place for Mass? A recent study revealed that 40 percent of major US airports have chapels offering Sunday Mass times for travelers and airport employees. 

Taking data from the 30 busiest airports in the U.S., the Pew Research Center identified airports offering Mass and other forms of Christian worship as well as Jewish and Muslim prayer services. 

The 2015 Pew study found that more than half of the largest hub airports in the U.S. contain chapels. Eighteen out of the 30 busiest hubs in the nation have chapels orientated towards some faith, and 14 of those have regular services. Four airports have irregular prayer services and offer rooms for mediation. Additionally, 12 airports offer Catholic Mass. 

Among the airports absent from the list was Los Angeles International, the second largest airport in the nation.

The study only considered data from large hubs, those that handle at least one percent of annual passenger boarding in the US. These airports range from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, where 45 million people travel annually, to Portland International, where more than 7 million travel. 

The first airport chapel was instituted at Boston’s Logan International Airport a little over 60 years ago, according to the Pluralism Project by Harvard University. Titled “Our Lady of the Airways,” it was a Catholic chapel, like many to follow. Airports saw a rise in chapels from the ‘60s until the ‘80s. 

Chapels with services from various different religions became popular in 1990s. Dallas/Fort Worth International has an interfaith chapel for each of its five terminals. 

Some airports, including smaller hubs in Florida and New York, have religiously neutral “mediation rooms,” which offer no services but only a space for prayer or reflection. 

Other airports have places of worship associated with distinct religions. For example, John F. Kennedy International includes a Catholic Church, Protestant chapel, synagogue, and mosque and has services multiple times throughout the day. 


Trump admin ponders new religious freedom rule for HHS mandate

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 17:51

Washington D.C., May 31, 2017 / 03:51 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A leaked draft of a federal rule that would protect religious organizations from the controversial federal contraception mandate has won the support of religious liberty advocates, who say that it is sorely needed. 

“What the rule ultimately says, is that, given how widely available these products already are, there is simply no need for the government to force unwilling religious groups who serve the poor to provide them or to pay massive fines that would shut down these types of ministries,” said Mark L. Rienzi, an attorney at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the legal group that represents the Little Sisters of the Poor.

“As I understand it, this rule shows the United States government finally acknowledging that people can get contraceptives without forcing nuns to provide them,” he said May 31.

Rienzi spoke to reporters in a Wednesday conference call about a 125-page draft memo of a religious liberty rule reportedly under consideration at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The rule would add to, not replace, an Obama-era HHS rule, announced in late 2011, that required employers’ health plans to include coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some drugs that can cause abortion. The initial rule’s religious exemption was so narrow it only exempted houses of worship, drawing widespread objections and lawsuits from more than 300 plaintiffs. Among those suing over the mandate is EWTN Global Catholic Network. CNA is part of the EWTN family.

Subsequent revisions allowed some changes to the mandate for some other religious entities. However, groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor objected that the rule still required their complicity in providing such coverage, which violates their religious and moral standards. Refusal to comply with the rule would result in heavy – potentially crippling – fines. 

The draft religious liberty rule would allow any employer to request an exemption based on moral or religious objections.

“Expanding the exemption removes religious and moral obstacles that entities and certain individuals may face who otherwise wish to participate in the healthcare market,” said the May 23 draft posted to the news site Vox.

Employers seeking an exemption would have to have a clear statement in their health plan documents that they do not cover contraception or related products. The rule would also allow health insurers to decline to cover contraception and allow individuals to object to participation in a health plan that covers birth control.

During his presidential run, Donald Trump had pledged to aid the Little Sisters of the Poor in an October letter to Catholic leaders.

And in a May 4 executive order, he asked three cabinet departments to consider amended rules that would “address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate.”

The same day, he hosted the Little Sisters of the Poor in the Rose Garden of the White House.

“With this executive order,” he said, “we are ending the attacks on religious liberty.”

However, their legal fight continues. Rienzi said the Little Sisters will still seek a court order to bar the government from imposing similar requirements in the future.

While a new federal rule protecting religious liberty would be “a very good thing,” he said, the Little Sisters have always wanted a court to definitively say that “the government cannot force them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception.”

“The alternative would be a world where the Little Sisters of the Poor and other groups, every four to eight years, have to be staring at the Federal Register, waiting and worrying to see whether the government is going to try to re-impose this.”

The Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision of 2014 ruled that the mandate violated the religious freedom of closely-held private companies, but this did not apply to the Little Sisters’ case, as their organization is a non-profit. In May 2016, the Supreme Court ordered a lower court to re-hear the nuns’ case, a decision considered a technical win for the Little Sisters.

One backer of the Obama-era rule, National Women’s Law Center vice president Gretchen Borchelt, told the New York Times she did not know the details of the new rule. Nonetheless, she charged that whatever the rule is, her group thinks it will “allow an employer’s religious beliefs to keep birth control away from women.”

She said her organization was preparing a lawsuit to challenge the proposed rule. Possible grounds for the lawsuit could be inadequate explanation or justification for the rule, which makes it “arbitrary and capricious.” She thought the lawsuit could argue that the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act bars discrimination in health programs that receive federal funds. The act also bars the health secretary from issuing any rule that “impedes timely access to health care services” or creates “unreasonable barriers” for individuals seeking “appropriate medical care.”

Rienzi said such lawsuits would not succeed, given that these groups did not challenge the Obama administration's other non-religious exemptions from mandatory contraception in health plans.

“There’s nothing at all unreasonable about the federal government respecting religious liberty. Congress didn’t impose this requirement in the first place, the agency did,” he said.

The Kaiser Family Foundation said that before the mandate, more than 20 percent of U.S. women of childbearing age paid out-of-pocket for oral contraceptives. After the mandate, that number is now 4 percent.  

According to Rienzi, figures on contraception coverage and contraceptive use ignore that the Obama administration had already exempted about one in three Americans, either on grandfathered plans or other government plans like military families. Big companies like Chevron and Pepsi were exempted by Congress for reasons of finance and convenience.

“About 100 million Americans did not have plans subject to this mandate,” he said.

“Some of the criticisms of the rule, at least that we’re seeing so far, suggest that it will take contraceptives away from many people,” he added. “That is quite inaccurate.”

Rienzi estimated only 120,000 to 130,000 people were employed by religious employers that would qualify for exemptions.

“Obviously this country has a lot of ways to get contraception to people without forcing Catholic nuns to get involved. It’s certainly a big enough country that we have room both for religious Catholic nuns and for people who want access to contraception,” Rienzi said.

Other backers of the draft religious freedom rule included the Susan B. Anthony List.

“The taking of human life is the antithesis of health care,” the group said. “No one, including religious orders like the Little Sisters of the Poor, or groups like Susan B. Anthony List should be forced to be complicit in the provision of abortion inducing drugs and devices.”


Portland archbishop calls for prayer, action following train stabbing

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 16:55

Portland, Ore., May 30, 2017 / 02:55 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon, urged his followers on Facebook to practice Christ-like actions after a stabbing attack on a commuter train Friday left two people dead.

“I ask the faithful in western Oregon and all people to join me in taking some spiritual and practical actions in working towards peace and respect for those who make up this wonderful and diverse community,” Archbishop Sample wrote on Sunday.

Jeremy Joseph Christians, a 35-year-old convicted felon, shouted ethnic and religious slurs at two young women on the train, one of whom was described as wearing a Muslim head-covering, according to a statement from the Portland Police Department.

When three men attempted to intervene, Christian reportedly stabbed them before leaving the train. Ricky John Best, 53, died at the scene, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, died in hospital. Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, remains in hospital in Portland with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to the police statement. Best was a member of Christ the King parish in Milwaukie, Oregon, according to the Archdiocese of Portland’s Catholic Sentinel.

Christian is currently being held without bail on two counts of aggravated murder and charges of attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.

Archbishop Sample urged the faithful, first and foremost, to pray for the victims and their families, for those who may feel unsafe in the city, and for those whose hearts have hardened to the love of God, turning to violence and hatred.  

He also suggested they work with local citizens, government officials and faith-based agencies, such as Catholic Charities, to work to welcome all people to the Portland community.

“It is only through these Christ-like actions that we can truly make a real and tangible change to this continuing and growing disregard for the dignity of every human person,” the archbishop wrote.