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Fulton Sheen's remains arrive in Peoria; sainthood cause resumes

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 18:20

Peoria, Ill., Jun 27, 2019 / 04:20 pm (CNA).- Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s remains have been transferred from the Archdiocese of New York to Peoria, Illinois, after three years of litigation, clearing the way for the former archbishop’s sainthood cause to go forward.

Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria announced today that Sheen’s remains had been transferred from St. Patrick Cathedral, New York, to the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria.

“Church law requires that the transfer of the remains of one considered for beatification done without any solemnity,” a June 27 release from the diocese explained.

“As a result, the transfer could not be publicized in advance. Also, no liturgical ceremony or public gathering could be held during the transfer. Therefore, the transfer of the remains was done without prior public notice.”

According to the diocese, Joan Sheen Cunningham—Venerable Sheen’s niece and closest living relative— and Patricia Gibson, chancellor and attorney for the Diocese of Peoria, along with funeral home and cemetery personnel, gathered early in the morning June 27 at St. Patrick Cathedral in New York, where Sheen’s remains were taken out of the cathedral to LaGuardia airport and flown to Chicago O’Hare.

The diocese also announced that Sheen’s Cause for Beatification, the next step on the road to sainthood, had resumed.

“Bishop Jenky has notified the Vatican indicating that civil litigation has ended and that Sheen’s remains have been transferred. The Vatican has confirmed that the Cause for Beatification has now resumed,” the release continues.

The next step will be for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints in Rome to present the alleged miracle attributed to Sheen’s intercession— the miraculous healing of an infant declared to be stillborn— to Pope Francis for his decree authenticating it.

Sheen’s remains will be encased into a marble monument inside the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, located at the side altar dedicated to the Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Help— on whose feast day, June 27, the archbishop’s disinterment took place.

Venerable Sheen was born in 1895 in Illinois and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria at the age of 24. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of New York in 1951, and he remained there until his appointment as Bishop of Rochester in 1966.

Sheen served as host of the “Catholic Hour” radio show and the television show “Life is Worth Living”.

In addition to his pioneering radio and television shows, Archbishop Sheen authored many books, with proceeds supporting foreign missions. He headed the Society for the Propagation of the Faith at one point in his life, and continued to be a leading figure in U.S. Catholicism until his death in 1979.

The Peoria diocese opened the cause for Sheen’s canonization in 2002, after the Archdiocese of New York said it would not explore the case. Jenky had suspended the beatification cause in September 2014 on the grounds that the Holy See expected Sheen’s remains to be in the Peoria diocese. A lengthy legal battle followed.

Sheen’s will had declared his wish to be buried in the Archdiocese of New York’s Calvary Cemetery. Soon after Sheen died, Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York asked Joan Sheen Cunningham if his remains could be placed in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, and she consented.

However, Cunningham has since said that Sheen would have wanted to have been interred in Peoria if he knew that he would be considered for sainthood. In 2016, she filed a legal complaint seeking to have her uncle’s remains moved to the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria.

An initial court ruling had sided with Cunningham, but a state appeals court overturned that ruling, saying it had failed to give sufficient attention to a sworn statement from a colleague of Archbishop Sheen, Monsignor Hilary C. Franco, a witness for the New York archdiocese.

Msgr. Franco had said that Sheen told him he wanted to be buried in New York and that Cardinal Cooke had offered him a space in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The appeals court ordered “a full exploration” of the archbishop’s desires.

The Superior Court of New York ruled in June 2018 that Sheen’s remains be transferred to Peoria. The New York Court of Appeals unanimously agreed during March 2019.

The appeals court dismissed New York’s appeal of the decision in May 2019, and again earlier this month. The New York Archdiocese ultimately agreed to cooperate with the transfer after all its civil law options were exhausted.

“Although the date of Beatification is not known at this time, Bishop Jenky hopes and prays that these decrees from Rome will be issued in the coming weeks,” the release continued.

“Bishop Jenky continues to be hopeful that Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen will be Beatified during this 100th anniversary year of his ordination to the priesthood in Peoria.”

“Everyone is encouraged to continue offering prayers for the Beatification of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Bishop Jenky invites everyone to visit the new tomb [in Peoria],” the release concluded.

Democratic candidates tout abortion credentials in first debate

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 17:00

Washington D.C., Jun 27, 2019 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- Taxpayer funding for abortions is a matter of “justice” for men and women Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro said during the first Democratic primary debate Wednesday. 

Castro’s comments were echoed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who said that she does not support any restrictions on abortion, and wants to see the Roe v. Wade decision codified into federal law. 

After acknowledging that every Democratic candidate on the debate stage June 26 was in favor of abortion rights, debate moderator Lester Holt asked Castro if, were he elected, abortion would be covered under a government-funded healthcare plan. 

“Yes, it would,” said the former Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary. 

Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow for The Catholic Association, an organization that promotes religious liberty, life, and the Church in the public square, was critical of Castro’s enthusiasm for taxpayer-funded abortion, and said it was a sign the party has been overrun by “abortion extremism.”

“By equating ‘reproductive justice’ with taxpayer funding of abortion, he reveals the party’s fundamental schism with Americans writ large on the issue,” said McGuire. 

“Americans overwhelmingly oppose the use of tax dollars to pay for abortions, and yet Democrats are actively and aggressively working to undo legal barriers like the Hyde Amendment.”

McGuire believes that this election will result in “a competition between the candidates as to who can be most extreme on abortion” and that “Castro was just the first one out of the gate.”

Castro has made his Catholic identity a hallmark of his campaign, initially announcing his presidential ambitions in front of an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12, her feast day. 

“I don't believe only in reproductive freedom, I believe in reproductive justice,” Castro said Wednesday night. He further elaborated that “just because a woman -- or let’s also not forget someone in the trans community, a trans female, is poor, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to exercise that right to choose. And so I absolutely would cover the right to have an abortion.” 

The comment caused some confusion among LGBT activists. A “trans female” is a man who identifies and presents himself as a woman, but cannot get pregnant as they do not possess a uterus. Castro later clarified on Twitter that he intended to refer to “trans males,” or women who identify and present themselves as men, who can and do bear children. 

"Last night I misspoke - it’s trans men, trans masculine, and non-binary folks who need full access to abortion and repro healthcare," he said.

Castro, who pointed out the Catholic church where he was baptized during the announcment of his presidential campaign, pledged that if he were elected, he would appoint federal judges who will “understand the precedent of Roe v. Wade and will respect it.”  

After this question, Holt then asked Warren if she would put any limits on abortion. Warren said she would not. 

“I would make certain that every woman has access to the full range of reproductive health care services, and that includes birth control, it includes abortion, it includes everything for a woman,” she said. 

Warren accused states of working to “undermine Roe” by passing restrictions on abortion, and that “it’s not enough to expect the courts to protect us.” 

“We now have an America where most people support Roe v. Wade,” said Warren. “We need to make that a federal law.” 

Massachusetts, which Warren represents in the Senate, passed the “Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women Act” or “NASTY Women” Act in 2018. The NASTY Women Act codified Roe v. Wade into law and overturned a dormant Massachusetts law that criminalized abortion. 

Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, said after the deabte that “the abortion lobby has too much power within the Democratic Party and is successfully alienating Democratic voters with the pressure for all candidates to take an abortion extremisim approach.” 

Day told CNA that she hopes the issue of pro-life support is raised on Thursday, the second night of Democratic primary debates. That debate will feature Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who has said that she does not believe there is a place for pro-life Democrats in the party. 

“Tonight, we would like to see one of the moderators ask, by show of hands, if anyone wants pro-life Democrats to vote for them,” said Day.

Day believes that the focus on abortion will end up harming the Democratic Party in their effort to win the presidency in 2020.

“An abortion extremist cannot defeat President Trump, because the independents and Democrats who oppose abortion will simply stay home or vote third party,” she said. 

New Ulm diocese reaches $34m settlement with victims of clergy sex abuse

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 16:01

New Ulm, Minn., Jun 27, 2019 / 02:01 pm (CNA).- The Diocese of New Ulm announced Wednesday it has reached a $34 million settlement with victims of clerical sexual abuse.

“The settlement represents our commitment to finding a fair resolution for victims and survivors of sexual abuse while continuing our ministry for those we serve throughout south and west central Minnesota,” Bishop John LeVoir stated June 26.

According to the AP, there are 93 victims party to the settlement.

Jeff Anderson, the attroney representing many of the survivors, said that $8 million of the settlement comes from the diocese and its parishes, while the remaining $26 million is from insurance coverage.

The New Ulm diocese had filed for bankruptcy in March 2017 in the face of 101 lawsuits regarding sex abuse claims dating back to the 1950s.

Most of the lawsuits concern incidents that allegedly took place from the 1950s through the 1970s. The suits were filed under a 2013 Minnesota law that temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for cases of sexual abuse of children.

Approval of the settlement will resolve the diocese's bankruptcy.

The diocese will file the reorganization plan to the bankruptcy court, which will be reviewed by a judge. The settlement plan must then be voted on for approval by the claimants, and a trust from which payments will be made will be established. The diocese said this should be completed by the end of the year.

Bishop LeVoir said the diocese “remains committed to preventing sexual abuse, holding accountable those clergy who are credibly accused of abuse and helping victims and survivors find healing.”

“For more than 15 years, all priests and deacons, diocesan staff, parish and Catholic school employees, as well as volunteers having regular or unsupervised interaction with minors have been required to meet safe environment requirements,” which include adherence to a code of conduct, undergoing a background check, and participation in sexual abuse awareness and prevention training, he said.

The bishop added that “the diocese has committed to disclosing the names of all clergy with credible claims of abuse made against them” and that it “follows strict standards for determining suitability of clergy serving in the diocese, starting during the seminary formation process and including verifying the credentials of priests visiting from other dioceses or from religious orders.”

He said the diocese “promptly contacts law enforcement to report any allegations it receives regarding sexual misconduct by clergy or others involved in ministry within the geographic area the diocese serves.”

Bishop LeVoir also invited victims to contact the diocese for counseling or other assistance in healing, and invited them to meet with him as part of their healing process if they wish.

“I again extend my deepest apologies on behalf of the Diocese of New Ulm to victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse,” he concluded. “Victims and survivors have courageously worked to raise awareness about the tragedy of childhood sexual abuse and how we must address it. I hope and pray that today’s settlement helps victims and survivors on their healing journey.”

Several more Minnesota dioceses filed bankruptcy over sex abuse claims, including Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Duluth, and Winona-Rochester. The Diocese of Saint Cloud has said it will do so.