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ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
Updated: 29 min 19 sec ago

Lay seminary prof in Buffalo charged with cyberstalking investigative reporter

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 18:01

Buffalo, N.Y., Feb 13, 2020 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- The FBI in Buffalo has arrested a lay, adjunct seminary professor who is accused of making a death threat against a local investigative reporter.

Paul Lubienecki appeared in federal court in downtown Buffalo Feb. 12 and was charged with cyberstalking, WKBW reported. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

Lubienecki was an adjunct professor at Christ the King Seminary and also served as an adjunct at State University of New York Fredonia.

WKBW investigative reporter Charlie Specht, who has been covering the Buffalo diocese for well over a year, began receiving threatening voicemails from an unknown number during August 2019.

WKBW reported that Lubienecki also has left threatening messages for former diocesan employee Siobhan O’Connor, who leaked confidential chancery documents to the press during November 2018, and for Father Ryszard Biernat, an assistant to Emeritus Bishop Richard Malone who leaked secret recordings of the bishop to the press.

Buffalo’s apostolic administrator, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, announced earlier this month that Christ the King Seminary will close its doors at the end of the spring semester.

On Feb. 4, the day that Scharfenberger announced the seminary’s closure, Specht reported live from the seminary on television. Moments later, the mystery caller left Specht a voicemail.

“You must be so happy the seminary’s closing. You’re a bad person. I know where you live...I’m gonna find you. I’m gonna kill you,” the voicemail said as reported by WKBW.

Specht called the police, and WKBW’s parent company, the E.W. Scripps Co., made plans for Specht, his wife and children to receive around-the-clock protection at an undisclosed location from a private security firm, WKBW reported.

An agent from the FBI Buffalo Field Office was assigned to investigate the matter, and obtained records that allowed the identification of Lubienecki as the suspect.

Bishop Scharfenberger decried Lubienecki’s actions in a series of tweets Feb. 13.

“There is no place - nor should there be any tolerance - for threats or harassment towards members of the news media or any one else. This is against who we are as Christians, but also against our nation’s founding principles that guarantee freedom to the press and freedom of speech,” Scharfenberger said.

“As a Church we must be able to withstand the glaring light of scrutiny - even as we seek to pierce the darkness with our own light, demonstrating Christ’s abundant love, forgiveness and care for us all.”

In its Feb. 4 statement, the Buffalo diocese said that Scharfenberger is forming a committee “to ‘re-imagine’ and provide specific recommendations as to how priestly formation will continue for seminarians of the Diocese of Buffalo, while also providing ongoing education in pastoral ministry and theological training for lay women and men, as well as for those seeking ordination to the permanent diaconate.”

There are currently 26 seminarians enrolled at the seminary; 15 of whom are studying for the Diocese of Buffalo. The diocese said it will look for other schools for its seminarians.

Bishop Richard Malone, who resigned during December 2019, faced numerous accusations from whistleblowers of mishandling abuse cases during his time as bishop, and was the subject of an apostolic visitation by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn during October 2019.

During Bishop Malone’s tenure, the diocese faced charges that Christ the King faculty engaged seminarians in salacious and inappropriate conversation during a party at a parish rectory.

In April 2019, seminarians described the conversation as “pornographic,” and described lewd sexual references in a written report, other priests who attended the party told reporters they did not hear all of the salacious talk the seminarians claim to have heard, and say they wonder whether some aspects of the conversation were misinterpreted.

Malone removed the priests from ministry after the allegations of their misconduct was made.

Another seminary-related controversy began in August 2019, when Malone’s secretary leaked audio of conversations among himself, Malone, and diocesan lawyers and staff.

In the audio of the conversations, Malone admitted that a seminarian’s accusations of grooming and the violation of the seal of confession against a diocesan priest were probably true, but months later the priest remained in active ministry.

“We are in a true crisis situation. True crisis. And everyone in the office is convinced this could be the end for me as bishop,” Malone said, noting that if the matter—which could appear to be a “love triangle” between the seminarian and two priests—were leaked to the public, “it could force me to resign.”

After priest says pedophilia 'doesn't kill anyone,' Bishop Tobin responds

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 17:47

Providence, R.I., Feb 13, 2020 / 03:47 pm (CNA).- Rhode Island’s Catholic bishop has responded to a controversy in which a series of remarks from a priest in his diocese, which began with the Eucharist and pro-choice politicians and seemed eventually to diminish the gravity of child sexual abuse.

“In the context of the present public discussion, it is important to affirm that both the sexual abuse of minors and abortion are horrific, immoral actions that have very serious, harmful consequences,” Bishop Thomas Tobin said in a Feb. 13 statement.

“It is never acceptable to underestimate the harm caused by sexual abuse of minors,” Tobin added.

The discussion to which Tobin referred began when a Rhode Island priest, Fr. Richard Bucci, announced Jan. 26 that state lawmakers who voted in favor of a bill to expand abortion access in the state would not be permitted to receive the Eucharist at his parish.

The 66 legislators who voted in favor of Rhode Island’s Reproductive Privacy Act of 2019  should not approach Holy Communion, and would not be permitted to act as witnesses to marriage, baptismal or confirmation sponsors, or lectors at liturgies in his parish, Bucci said in a note he mailed to the lawmakers, and distributed at his parish, West Warwick’s Sacred Heart Church.

Bucci’s remarks suggested that proponents of abortion are prohibited from the Eucharist because of abortion’s unique gravity, and he has said that pro-choice legislators have incurred the penalty of excommunication.

The priest told local radio host Gene Valenti Feb. 7 that Catholic legislators who support same-sex marriage can be admitted to the Eucharist, while those who support abortion can not.

“There is not an innocent life at risk there. The Church has excommunicated people procuring, providing, guiding to abortion because there is an innocent life at stake, and so that is the reason that the excommunication has been in law since the beginning of Catholicism.”

The Church does say that pro-abortion politicians can be prohibited from the Eucharist, though Bucci’s argument is not consistent with canonical norms.

Canon law establishes that only Catholics who directly procure or perform abortions are subject to the canonical penalty of excommunication— doctors, and those who freely choose to undergo or directly facilitate particular abortions.

The Church says that pro-abortion politicians may be prohibited by their bishops or pastors from the Eucharist not because they are excommunicated, but because their political advocacy can constitute “obstinate perseverance in manifest grave sin.”

Catholics who advocate for other policies that can not be reconciled to Christian doctrine can also be forbidden from receiving the Eucharist, as can Catholics who publicly perdure in other consistent circumstances of grave sin, including ongoing and manifest sexual relationships, of any kind, outside of marriage. That prohibition, which would last until a person repented and amended his life,  does not constitute excommunication.

Bucci’s remarks sparked heated controversy when, in an effort to explain his position, he made a comparison between abortion and pedophilia.

“We are not talking about any other moral issue, where some may make it a comparison between pedophilia and abortion. Pedophilia doesn't kill anyone and this does,” Bucci told local reporters Feb 9, apparently attempting to emphasize the gravity of abortion, and addressing the clerical sexual abuse crisis.

According to some studies, people who experience sexual abuse as a child are three times more likely to commit suicide than national average. People who experience multiple acts of abuse are even more likely to take their own lives.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2005 called acts of child sexual abuse “a horrendous sin in the eyes of God." The Church says that a person who has committed any act of sexual abuse should not recieve the Eucharist without first sacramentally confessing the sin.

Tobin’s Feb. 13 statement did not address Bucci’s specific arguments. It did emphasize that “abortion destroys innocent unborn life; it exploits vulnerable women; it diminishes family life; and it corrodes the moral fabric of society. There are no circumstances, personal or political, that justify the termination of unborn children.”

“The Catholic Church has been very clear and consistent in condemning the evil of abortion, and we affirm that those who promote, support and approve abortion, including civic leaders, are responsible for having committed a grave evil in the sight of Almighty God,” the statement added.

At the same time, Tobin also emphasized that “Sexual abuse, wherever and whenever it occurs, causes long-lasting, sometimes permanent and devastating harm to the victims/survivors, their families and the entire community.”

“Allegations of sexual abuse must always be taken most seriously and every effort should be made to protect children and youth, to eliminate abuse, to prosecute abusers, and to offer assistance to those who have been harmed,” Tobin added.

Tobin did not indicate how the Diocese of Providence will respond directly to Bucci, and the diocese declined to respond to questions from CNA.

"In the current public discussion, I urge all parties to refrain from unhelpful, inflammatory rhetoric, and to reflect personally and prayerfully on the consequences of these grave matters. May we renew our efforts to protect life and promote the common good, especially for children and youth, and may God bless our commitment with wisdom, prudence, humility and charity," the bishop said.

 

Senate to vote on 2 pro-life laws

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 17:00

Washington D.C., Feb 13, 2020 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- The Senate will soon vote on two key pieces of pro-life legislation to protect infants surviving abortions and unborn children after they can feel pain.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) filed cloture on Thursday on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection bill (S. 311), as well as a bill “to protect pain-capable unborn children” (S. 3275). “Pain-capable” bills establish protections for babies from around the time they have been medically shown to feel pain, around 20 weeks gestation.

McConnell’s procedural action brings up a Senate floor vote on whether or not to consider the two bills. As a 60-vote majority is needed to consider the legislation, the bills are not expected to pass.

The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List thanked McConnell in a tweet on Thursday. Regarding the consideration of the “Born-Alive” bill, the group stated, “I mean come on, are we really still debating this, Senate Dems?”

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) introduced the “pain-capable” bill on Tuesday, a year after he authored a 20-week abortion ban, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” (S. 160).

"I don't believe abortion five months into the pregnancy makes us a better nation. America's at her best when she's standing up for the least among us,” Graham stated during an April, 2019 hearing on his pain-capable bill.

Sen. Ben Sasse’s (R-Neb.) Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act requires babies who survive abortion attempts to be given the same standard of care that other infants receive who are born alive at the same age, and to be immediately admitted to a hospital.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that from 2003-2014, 143 infant deaths in the U.S. occured after children were born alive following botched abortions, and “it is possible” that the number was higher. In Florida alone in 2017, 11 babies were reportedly born live during abortions. 

Sasse told CNA on Monday that, although he is pro-life, his bill is not about limiting abortion.

“This is about babies that survive botched abortions, and whether or not they deserve the same level of care that other babies get at the same gestational stage. And the answer for all humans should obviously be ‘yes,’ if people aren’t just obsessed with politics,” he told CNA.

In 2015 and again in 2017, the House passed a pain-capable bill but the measure failed in the Senate. In 2015, the Senate failed to proceed with the House bill, six votes short of the necessary 60 votes.

The Senate in 2018 failed to proceed with Graham’s pain-capable bill, by a vote of 51-46. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) voted yes, while Doug Jones (D-Ala.) voted no, along with Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine).

Connecticut students sue over trans-athlete school policy

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 16:00

Washington D.C., Feb 13, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- Three female high school athletes have sued over a Connecticut policy allowing males identifying as females to compete in girls’ sports.

The three high school students— Selina Soule of Glastonbury High School, senior Chelsea Mitchell of Canton High School, and sophomore Alanna Smith of Danbury High School— are all track-and-field athletes.

In a complaint filed on Wednesday in a federal district court, the students say they were denied an opportunity for fair competition under Title IX, after a state school policy began allowing males identifying as females to compete in girls’ high school sports.

At the state’s 2019 championships, two males identifying as females won first and second place for the 55-meter indoor track competition; Soule failed to qualify for the finals of the competition by one place.

“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field. Forcing them to compete against boys isn’t fair, shatters their dreams, and destroys their athletic opportunities,” said Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel with the group Alliance Defending Freedom which represents the girls.

In 2017, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) instituted a new policy allowing transgender student athletes to compete in the sport of their “preferred gender identity,” not their biological sex. The conference includes many of the state’s Catholic schools.

Since then, two males identifying as female have won 15 women’s state championship titles, and a single male has set 10 state records that were previously held by 10 different girls.

The female track competitors first filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in June of 2019.

The Title IX complaint in Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools says that “biological differences” and not gender identity have always determined sex-specific sports “because those differences matter for fair competition.” Title IX mandates that federally-funded education programs or activities cannot discriminate on the basis of sex.

The new policy “is permitting boys who are male in every biological respect” to compete against girls, the complaint says, adding that biological differences between men and women are not “stereotypes, ‘social constructs,’ or relics of past discrimination.”

Furthermore, post-pubescent male athletes “consistently achieve records 10-20% higher than comparably fit and trained women across almost all athletic events, with even wider consistent disparities in long-term endurance events and contests of sheer strength such as weight-lifting.”

The complaint argues that the state policy “is now regularly resulting in boys displacing girls in competitive track events in Connecticut,” and helping deprive girls from “opportunities to compete at higher levels, and public recognition critical to college recruiting and scholarship opportunities that should go to those outstanding female athletes.”

A Vatican document “Male and Female He Created Them,” released by the Congregation for Catholic Education in June of 2019, called gender theory an attempt “chiefly to create a cultural and ideological revolution driven by relativism.”

“There is a need to reaffirm the metaphysical roots of sexual difference, as an anthropological refutation of attempts to negate the male-female duality of human nature, from which the family is generated,” the document states.

Gregory orders McCarrick's coat of arms removed from Washington cathedral

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 15:00

Washington D.C., Feb 13, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- Disgraced former archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s coat of arms has been earased from the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. 

The former cardinal was laicized in 2019 after being found guilty of numerous crimes, including the sexual abuse of minors and adults. McCarrick’s coat of arms had previously been displayed on the wall of the cathedral along with the other archbishops to have the capital see. 

Following his laicization, McCarrick’s shield, which also displayed his name and the years in which he served as Archbishop of WAshington, was first covered and then removed from the wall, creating a gap in the display of coats of arms. 

The display has now been altered so that there is no gap between the arms of current Archbishop Wilton Gregory and the previous archbishops Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Cardinal James Hickey.

The new arrangement does not account for McCarrick’s years in Washington, with the six years between the tenures of Hickey and Wuerl unacknowledged.

Before his arrival in Washington, McCarrick served as the Archbishop of Newark from 1986 until 2000. A secretary for the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark was unable to confirm if the cathedral basilica had a display of former archbishops’ coats of arms, and, if so, if McCarrick’s coat of arms remained in place.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Washington told CNA that Archbishop Wilton Gregory had personally taken the decision to remove McCarrick’s coat of arms from St. Matthew’s cathedral, rather than keep it covered or otherwise note his laicization. 

“The decision to remove his coat of arms from the cathedral was made as part of our ongoing effort to help bring healing and peace to survivors of abuse,” said Paula Grant, secretary of communications for the Archdiocese of Washington. 

“Archbishop Gregory made this decision upon his arrival to the Archdiocese of Washington,” said Grant. 

Responses to the move were mixed among Washington Catholics, with some strongly in favor of the move and others more hesitant.

Nathan Lloyd told CNA outside of the cathedral that he agreed with Archbishop Gregory’s decision. 

"I think that it's probably a good move to remove it entirely,” said Lloyd. “It might have been good if [the removal] was a public act to make it clear that we are moving past this awful legacy of what he left in D.C., but I think it's probably a good idea to remove it." 

Lloyd said that he thinks removing the coat of arms is a “move of reconciliation” that will help the archdiocese move past what has happened. 

“Not to totally forget [McCarrick], but to make a point that this is no longer what we are," he said.  

Others disagreed, and said the coat of arms should have either stayed or been altered to reflect McCarrick’s crimes and laicization. 

Washington Catholic Grace Russo told CNA that the removal of the coat of arms might look “as if the Church is trying to erase an embarrassing and painful history.” 

“I wish they had either left the space blank, flipped the seal upside-down, or come up with a similar solution,” Russo told CNA. 

One Catholic from DC wishes that the northwestern corner of the cathedral had remained unchanged. 

“They should have left it,” said Ryan Jackson. “It’s not that easy to erase sin.”

Catholic witness grilled on contraception during House hearing

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 14:20

Washington D.C., Feb 13, 2020 / 12:20 pm (CNA).- A Democratic congressman grilled a Catholic female law professor on her beliefs about contraception during a congressional hearing for a pro-abortion bill on Wednesday.

During the hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the Women’s Health Protection Act—a bill that could threaten existing state abortion regulations—73 year-old Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C) questioned law professor Teresa Stanton Collett about her stance on “contraception as a means of birth control.”

“Where are you on contraception?” Butterfield asked the female professor.

“I am post-menopausal, Congressman, so that’s really not a relevant question to me,” Collett answered.

Collett teaches at law at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is director of her law school's Prolife Center. She has served on the Pontifical Council for the Family: she was first appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, and Pope Francis subsequently renewed her mandate.

In 2013 she was also a delegate to the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) for the Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.

On Wednesday, she testified at the hearing on the Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R. 2975) (S. 1645), a bill introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). The bill seeks to expand legal abortion by subjecting state regulations of it to increased legal scrutiny.  

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, called the legislation a “radical and egregiously misnamed” law that would allow for “abortion on demand through [to] birth.”

The bill could be used to overturn state abortion regulations, such as safety laws for clinics and abortionists, informed consent provisions, parental notification laws, and restrictions on abortions after 20 weeks.

At the hearing Wednesday, committee chair Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) also brought up contraception. She noted that the lack of large families among her fellow members of Congress suggested t her that widespread provision of contraception is “working.”

“Very little is being said about contraception,” Eshoo, a Catholic, said while arguing for the effectiveness of contraceptives in reducing abortions.

“There are very few here that have 11, 12, and 15 children, so something is working somewhere,” she said, looking around the hearing room.

In addition to possibly overturning state abortion laws, the bill in question—which has 215 cosponsors in the House and 42 cosponsors in the Senate— could also override conscience protections for medical professionals. The bill would require a health care entity to provide abortions, if any delay to do so is deemed unsafe by a doctor or nurse, or the mother—without sufficient protections for conscience or religious-based objections.

Additionally, the bill would “supercede” all federal laws “notwithstanding” the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), meaning that health care professionals or hospitals that object to providing abortions on religious or conscience grounds would not have recourse to religious freedom protections like RFRA.

The bill’s text does allow for states to defend their safety regulations of abortion, but demands that the evidence must be “clear and convincing” that the state law “significantly advances the safety of abortion services or the health of patients.” Also, it requires that patient safety “cannot be advanced by a less restrictive alternative measures or action.”

The Charlotte Lozier Institute says the bill would impose “a heightened burden of proof” on state laws that even the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute has termed “unusually strict.” 

In addition to Collett, witnesses who testified before the committee on Wednesday was Georgette Forney, president of Anglicans for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

Forney highlighted the work of groups serving post-abortive women, who often experience nightmares, depression, eating disorders, suicidal feelings or attempts, addiction, and low self-esteem, he said, calling their suffering a testament to the destructive nature of abortion. She singled out the work of Rachel’s Vineyard, which provides more than 1,000 retreats for post-abortive women each year in 49 states and 70 countries.

“If abortion is no big deal, why are all these people going through healing programs?” Forney asked.

While abortion supporters might argue that state and local laws are reducing the number of abortion clinics statewide, Collett said that 54% of counties in the U.S. have no hospitals with obstetric services.

“That is an outrage. If you were really concerned about women’s health, that would be your primary concern,” she said.

The bill says abortion is “central to women’s ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the United States.”

Yet abortions have declined by more than 50% from 1991-2016, she said, as the participation of women in the workforce has been “largely steady.”

“Women are succeeding in this society while abortion rates are falling rapidly,” she said.

Why Abraham Lincoln held a White House fundraiser for this black Catholic parish

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 14:00

Washington D.C., Feb 12, 2020 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- Black Catholic communities have been a part of the Church in the Washington, DC area for centuries.

But it wasn’t until the height of the Civil War that black Catholics in DC began the process of founding a parish of their own— with the help of President Abraham Lincoln.

In the 16th and 17th century, Spanish laws in North America freed slaves who converted to Catholicism. Some of these freed slaves and their descendants formed their own settlement in the region that would become Florida.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, in the decades before the American Revolution, Jesuit missionaries evangelized black slaves, including some owned by their order, along with freemen. Over the centuries, large African-American Catholic populations settled in cities including Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago and numerous cities throughout the South.

Monsignor Charles Pope, pastor of the historically black DC parish of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian, told CNA that racial prejudice has played a role in the region's Catholic history; that white parishioners enforced racial segregation, forcing black Catholics to sit in back of church or choir loft, and to wait to receive the Eucharist until after white Catholics had done so.

Black Catholics "had many reasons to walk out of the Catholic faith, being treated like that, and yet they didn't. They stayed, they worked, they built their own church."

"It's a remarkable story of resilience," Monsignor Pope said.

Beginnings of a black Catholic parish

In the mid-19th century, black Catholics were not permitted to worship in the main sanctuary of St. Matthew’s Church in downtown DC. They were likely relegated to the church basement to worship, and while black children had a separate Sunday school to attend, they were not at all allowed to attend the parish day school.

By 1864, the black Catholic community had had enough of being related to the margins of St. Matthews to worship, and decided to build their own place of worship.

According to historian Morris MacGregor, who wrote a book in 1999 entitled “The Emergence of a Black Catholic Community: St. Augustine’s in Washington,” a group of free black men and women came to the pastor of St. Matthew’s, Father Charles White, to ask him what could be done.

White was apparently supportive of the idea of building a new church building for the black Catholic community, though he didn’t initially envision it becoming a separate parish. He convened a committee which included the superintendent of the parish Sunday schools, as well as two black parishioners, one of whom was named Gabriel Coakley.

Gabriel Coakley was a Washington businessman, who according to his granddaughter was a cabinetmaker. Some sources say his wife Mary was a seamstress in the White House.

White agreed to underwrite the down payment for a lot on which to build the church using money from St. Matthews, but suggested fundraising efforts would be needed to continue the church’s construction.

The committee came up with a potentially winning idea: why not hold a massive Fourth of July fundraising picnic on the White House lawn?

Coakley appears to have been chosen as the leader and spokesman for the group, and by most accounts seems to be the one who met personally with Lincoln to ask for the use of the White House grounds for a fundraiser picnic to raise money for the new church.

Lincoln’s support

Even at the height of the Civil War, personal access to the President was much simpler than it is today. Coakley simply made an appointment to meet Lincoln and was welcomed into the White House on June 27, 1864.

Though not himself a Catholic, Lincoln was evidently supportive of helping black Catholics in DC build their own place to worship. He agreed at once, and told Coakley to go to General Benjamin French’s office to tell him that he had given permission for the event.

French was a prominent Mason, so Coakley feared that he would not be keen to grant permission for an unusual event organized by black Catholics.

Nevertheless, records show that General Benjamin French issued a permit for the use of the White House lawn on June 30, 1864, and, after Coakley returned to the White House to seek the president out once again, Lincoln signed it.

Here’s where the historical record gets slightly fuzzier.

It remains unclear whether Lincoln himself actually attended the event. A Washington Post article from the 1980s proclaims that the festival was “held” by President and Mrs. Lincoln, “who strongly supported a church for black Catholics in the nation's capital.”

MacGregor wrote that “President Lincoln and members of his cabinet likely made a brief appearance,” it is not officially recorded— at least in Lincoln’s writings— whether he was actually there or not.

Regardless, the event was a success.

An estimated 1,500 parishioners from at least six DC-area parishes attended, and the picnic raised over $1,200 a very large sum at the time.

With the funds in hand, work began on the De Porres Chapel and school, which opened in 1866 on Fifteenth Street.

MacGregor says it took a while for the chapel to attract a congregation, because despite harsh treatment at their home parishes, many black Catholics were still attached to their congregations.

Nevertheless, black Catholics at various parishes around DC remained frustrated by discrimination, and with the support of an Italian priest named Father Felix Barotti, a black Catholic parish at last came to fruition.

The original St. Augustine’s Church, which replaced the De Porres chapel in 1876, sat on the site of what eventually became the headquarters of the Washington Post.

It was the first African American Catholic parish in the city, and was a great success. The parish hosted the first National Black Catholic Congress in 1889, and parishioners hosted marchers and participated in the 1963 March on Washington.

The parish also has a school which has been operating for over 150 years.

In 1961, St. Augustine parish merged with the nearby, mostly white St. Paul's Church, which had been experiencing declining attendance. The new, merged parish was renamed Sts. Paul and Augustine until 1982, when the name was restored to St. Augustine's.

The original St. Augustine’s church, sadly, was razed in 1946.

Today, however, St. Augustine’s parish has one of the largest congregations in all of DC, with over 2,000 registered members.

Changing demographics

Similar to the parishioners at St. Augustine, the parishioners of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian, another historically black DC parish, raised the funds necessary to build their first church building.

Last year, the parish community celebrated its 125th anniversary.

Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian has a long African American Catholic heritage, but now, the neighborhood is changing. Pope estimated that the congregation is now probably about 40% white.

"Every now and then people feel a little bit sad, it just feels kind of like the end of an era," he said.

"We still have a very bright future as a parish, and there are many good, new things that are up and running now, too. So it's always a mix of a little bit of sadness but also hope and enthusiasm for a parish that is now much more diverse."

He said people use the term "gentrification" to describe changes in DC’s historically black neighborhoods.

"I don't think that's entirely accurate; it hides more than it discloses," Pope reflected.

"There's a subtlety to it. Most of the older black folks here in the neighborhood were not poor, they were working class— some of them had good government jobs with decent pensions."

Many of the aging back parishioners have sold their homes at a tidy profit, while choosing to downsize or move to the suburbs, for well over $1 million, he said.

"The ones who are leaving aren't necessarily all that poor, and the ones that are coming in aren't necessarily all that rich. Most of them are young adults...it's an odd thing."

"As a parish, I think we're handling it as best we can," he said.

 

How church-goers voted in the New Hampshire primary

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 12:33

Concord, N.H., Feb 12, 2020 / 10:33 am (CNA).- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) narrowly won Tuesday night’s Democratic New Hampshire primary, with third-place Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) getting the support of frequent church-goers.

Overall, Sanders received 73,809 votes in the Granite State, almost 26% of the vote. Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was just 4,000 votes behind with more than 24% of the vote. The two continued their strong performance at last week’s Iowa caucuses where Buttigieg narrowly beat out Sanders in the race for state delegate equivalents.

On Tuesday, Klobuchar surged into third place with 56,576 votes, almost 20% of the vote.

In distant fourth was Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) with 26,434 votes, or 9.25%. Former vice president Joe Biden, viewed for months as the top front-runner in the Democratic field for 2020, failed to finish in the top three for the second straight week, after his fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucus. He received 24,734 votes on Tuesday.

Klobuchar won the support of frequent attendees of religious services, although this group comprised only a small portion of the voters on Tuesday night. Most voters said they attend religious services either “occasionally” or “never.”

NBC News exit polls reported Klobuchar receiving 27% support from those attending religious services weekly or more. Similarly, Washington Post exit polls showed Klobuchar winning 28% of this vote, with Sanders finishing in a distant second with 15% support.

Among those attending church “occasionally,” Buttigieg bested the other candidates with 26%, and Klobuchar with 23%, in the Post exit polls. Among those “never” attending church, Sanders performed the highest with 35% support, to Buttigieg’s 22%.

Klobuchar has made headlines in recent days for branching out from the other Democratic candidates’ insistance that being pro-abortion is “essential” for party membership, or that they would do without the votes of pro-life Democrats if necessary.

Appearing on ABC’s “The View” on Tuesday, Klobuchar welcomed the support of pro-life Democrats while maintaining that “I am strongly pro-choice.”

“I believe we’re a big-tent party. And there are pro-life Democrats, and they are a part of our party,” she said. “I think we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out.”

Meanwhile, over the weekend in New Hampshire, Sanders had said that support for abortion “is an absolutely essential part of being a Democrat.”

Previously, Buttigieg had said at a Jan. 26 townhall in Iowa that women, not government officials, should be making the decisions on abortion; if this stance disqualified him with pro-life Democrats, he said, “I understand.”

At a November debate, Warren said that “abortion rights are human rights” and the Democratic party is “fundamentally” pro-abortion, but added that “I’m not here to try to drive anyone out of this party. I’m not here to try to build fences.”
 

 

Archbishop Gomez welcomes 'Querida Amazonia'

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 12:15

Los Angeles, Calif., Feb 12, 2020 / 10:15 am (CNA).- Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles commented Wednesday on Querida Amazonia, Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation following the Amazon synod, emphasizing its reminder that that Church proclaims Christ.

“Today our Holy Father Pope Francis offers us a hopeful and challenging vision of the future of the Amazon region, one of the earth’s most sensitive and crucial ecosystems, and home to a rich diversity of cultures and peoples,” the president of the US bishops' conference said Feb. 12.

“The Pope reminds us that the Church serves humanity by proclaiming Jesus Christ and his Gospel of love, and he calls for an evangelization that respects the identities and histories of the Amazonian peoples and that is open to the ‘novelty of the Spirit, who is always able to create something new with the inexhaustible riches of Jesus Christ.’”

Francis “also calls all of us in the Americas and throughout the West to examine our ‘style of life’ and to reflect on the consequences that our decisions have for the environment and for the poor,” Archbishop Gomez noted.

“Along with my brother bishops here in the United States, I am grateful for the Holy Father’s wisdom and guidance and we pledge our continued commitment to evangelizing and building a world that is more just and fraternal and that respects the integrity of God’s creation.”

Despite widespread speculation, the apostolic exhortation does not call for the priestly ordination of married men, but seeks to expand "horizons beyond conflicts."

The document presents the pope’s "four great dreams" for the Pan-Amazonian region’s ecological preservation and "Amazonian holiness."

The exhortation does not quote from recommendations made by bishops at the Vatican’s October meeting on the Amazon. Instead, Pope Francis "officially present[s]" the synod’s final document alongside his exhortation, asking "everyone to read it in full."

Nearly half of Querida Amazonia is dedicated to outlining the Roman Pontiff's "Ecclesial Dream" for the Amazon region, in which Pope Francis stresses the singular role of the priest, while affirming the laity’s ongoing contributions to evangelization.

“No Christian community is built up which does not grow from and hinge on the celebration of the most holy Eucharist … This urgent need leads me to urge all bishops, especially those in Latin America, not only to promote prayer for priestly vocations, but also to be more generous in encouraging those who display a missionary vocation to opt for the Amazon region,” Pope Francis wrote.

The exhortation warns against an outlook that restricts “our understanding of the Church to her functional structures.” It also rejects a narrow vision of “conceptions of power in the Church” that “clericalize women.”

Klobuchar says pro-life Democrats 'are a part of our party'

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 18:00

Washington D.C., Feb 11, 2020 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said on Tuesday that she would not shut pro-life Democrats out of the party.

Appearing on ABC’s “The View” on Tuesday, Klobuchar was asked by co-host Meghan McCain if “there’s room for pro-life Democrats to vote for you,” citing recent comments by the senator indicating she was open to pro-life support.

“Well first, let me say this. I am strongly pro-choice, I have always been pro-choice,” Klobuchar responded. The senator supports taxpayer-funded abortion and the codification of Roe v. Wade into federal law, but told the New York Times she was “unsure” about allowing chemical abortions to be available over-the-counter.

Klobuchar has also supported taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers and promoters, and has said that regulations on abortions after 24 weeks in a pregnancy “must be consistent with Roe v. Wade.” She told the Times that “attacks on women’s reproductive rights that are happening across the country are coordinated, calculated and dangerous.”

But, Klobuchar told McCain on Tuesday, she did not think pro-life Democrats should be expelled from the party.

“I believe we’re a big-tent party. And there are pro-life Democrats, and they are a part of our party,” she said.

“And I think we need to build a big tent. I think we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out.”

Klobuchar also reportedly told Chris Crawford of Democracy Fund that she would accept the support of pro-life Democrats on Monday.

 

Today I asked @amyklobuchar if there is room in her coalition for pro-life people. She said yes of course. I asked if she’d try to find common ground on bringing down the number of abortions.

She said “Yes. Yes.” And told me about her work in the adoption caucus in the Senate. pic.twitter.com/CIvfMSulEE

— Chris Crawford (@CrawfordStuff) February 10, 2020  

Klobuchar’s comments came as Democratic voters headed to the polls for the New Hampshire primary Feb. 11 and after fellow candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Saturday that support for abortion “is an absolutely essential part of being a Democrat.”

“By this time in history, I think, when we talk about what a Democrat is, I think being pro-choice is essentially—an essential part of that,” Sanders stated.

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said at a Jan. 26 townhall in Iowa that he would do without the support of pro-life Democrats if necessary, over his support for legal abortion.

When asked by Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats for Life of America, if he wanted the support of pro-life Democrats like her, Buttigieg responded that “I am pro-choice. And I believe that a woman ought to be able to make that decision [on abortion].”

If Democratic voters would not support him over that stance, he added, “I understand.” Last week on “The View,” Buttigieg declined to name a limit on abortion in the third trimester when challeneged about previous statements indication his support for abortion up until the baby’s first breath, instead he said it should be up to the woman to decide and not the government.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was asked in a November debate if there was room in the party for someone like Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who was re-elected in November and who signed into law a ban on abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

Warren said that abortion rights are “economic rights” and “human rights,” and that the party is “fundamentally” about preserving legal abortion.

She added that “I’m not here to try to drive anyone out of this party. I’m not here to try to build fences.”

Seton Hall poll says toss Astros' title

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 17:00

Newark, N.J., Feb 11, 2020 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- A majority of Americans want Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros to be stripped of their 2017 World Series title, according to a new poll by a Catholic university. 

The survey, conducted by Seton Hall University and published on Feb. 10, found that 52% of respondents want the Houston team’s championship revoked.

“The sentiment to strip the Astros of their trophy is well reflected in the seriousness by which people view rule breaking,” said Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll, which is sponsored by the school’s Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business.

Seton Hall University in Orange, New Jersey, is a Catholic university founded in 1856 by Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley of Newark, nephew of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. It is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Newark, with Cardinal Joseph Tobin serving as president of the university’s board of trustees.

It is one of the oldest diocesan-run Catholic universities in the country and has about 10,000 students, including 6,000 undergraduates.

The Seton Hall Sports Poll surveyed 662 adults around the U.S., and was conducted in the wake of revelations that players and coaches from Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Houston Astros in 2017 employed a sophisticated method of stealing the pitching signals of opposing teams by using an illegal video feed. 

While just over half of respondents (52%) wanted the Astros stripped of their title, only 35% said that the World Series result should be allowed to stand, and 13% responded “Don’t know/No opinion.”

Reports first surfaced in November last year that the Astros, during their 2017 championship season, employed an electronic system of stealing opponents’ signs to notify hitters in real time what pitch to expect.

Although players stealing opponents’ signs on the field—such as a runner at second base looking at the catcher’s signs to the pitcher—has long been regarded by players and fans as a natural part of baseball, to do so using artificial means such as video feeds is widely considered to be unethical and a violation of the “unwritten rules” of the game.

An investigation by Major League Baseball, which led to a report published in a January, concluded that the Astros used technology to steal signs and that the Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch knew of the procedure but did not act to stop it. The report also said that general manager Jeff Luhnow was culpable, whether through gross ignorance or knowing of the system and not stopping it.

MLB suspended Luhnow for one year; Hinch was suspended as well for knowing the system was being utilized but not putting a stop to it. The Astros organization promptly fired both of them after MLB announced its suspensions. The organization was also fined and lost draft choices.

Despite the MLB finding that the sign-stealing scheme was “player-driven and player-executed” except for bench coach Alex Cora who also participated, no players were disciplined by the Astros or MLB.

Cora, who went on to become the manager of the Boston Red Sox in 2018, was let go by the Red Sox after the investigation. Carlos Beltran, who was a member of the 2017 championship team, was reportedly a part of the player-run scheme and was hired as manager of the New York Mets after the 2019 season. He was also fired after the MLB investigation.

According to the Seton Hall poll, 84% of respondents said a sports team breaking the rules for an advantage “really hurts the game.” 

A marginally smaller number (83%) said that a politician doing so “really hurts the country,” but respondents were sharply divided along party lines: While 94% of Democrats said a politician cheating “really hurts the country,” but only 68% of Republicans agreed.

A majority of all respondents still said that a “winning at all costs” mentality is strongest in politics, with only 20% saying it is strongest in professional sports.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents said that athletes taking performance-enhancing drugs is “more detrimental to the game of baseball” than illegally stealing signs; 31% said that both are detrimental.

Sen. Sasse reintroduces Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection bill

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 16:30

Washington D.C., Feb 11, 2020 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- The Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a new hearing on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act on Tuesday, with legislators again considering the measure to mandate medical treatment for infants who survive and attempted abortion.

The Feb. 11 committee hearing comes after Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) reintroduced the bill for the 2020 legislative session. The Senate blocked the legislation in 2019, and a House of Representatives version was similarly stalled. 

“We’re not even having a debate here about first, or second, or third-trimester abortion. I’m obviously a pro-lifer, but that’s not what this is about,” Sasse told CNA in an interview on Monday.

“This is about babies that survive botched abortions, and whether or not they deserve the same level of care that other babies get at the same gestational stage. And the answer for all humans should obviously be yes, if people aren’t just obsessed with politics.”

Sasse said that the Democratic Party has been “completely captured by the abortion industry,” which is why his bill has not seen support from any of his Democratic colleagues.

The bill does not make abortion illegal, nor does it create any obstacles that would prevent a woman from having an abortion. Instead, it requires that doctors who discover that a baby has been born alive following an attempted abortion provide appropriate medical care to the infant. 

At the hearing on Tuesday, Sasse said that his bill “is not about overturning Roe v. Wade,” and that “this hearing is not about limiting access to abortion at all.” Rather, he said, he was hosting the hearing to make “sure that every newborn has a fighting chance,” regardless of the circumstances of their birth. 

In 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which provided legal rights to an infant born alive at any stage of pregnancy. Unlike Sasse’s bill, the 2002 law does not contain criminal penalties for a doctor who refuses to provide medical care, nor does it require any specific medical intervention.

Sasse’s legislation requires the same “appropriate” medical care that would be provided to an infant born at the same gestational age if the delivery had not involved an attempted abortion. 

In February 2019, Senate Democrats voted to block the bill by a vote of 53-44. In order to advance the legislative process, 60 members of the Senate had to vote in favor of the bill. All but three Democratic senators, including presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Amy Klochubar (D-MN), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) voted to end consideration of the bill.

The three Democrats who joined the 50 Republicans present were Sens. Doug Jones (D-PA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Bob Casey (D-PA). Three Republican senators missed the vote due to scheduling problems.

Sasse told CNA that he hopes there will not be a repeat of the filibuster tactics deployed to stop the bill last year. 

 “Last year when we got this to a vote, we ended up with a majority, we ended up with a bipartisan vote, and we had a president that wanted to sign it,” said Sasse. “But there were also a bunch of Democrats who decided they wanted to orchestrate their party into a filibuster against the legislation. And I hope that doesn’t happen again this time.”

President Donald Trump, who was vocally in favor of the bill, tweeted his anger after Senate Democrats blocked the legislation. 

“Senate Democrats just voted against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children. The Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth,” said Trump on Twitter. He said the day would be remembered as “one of the most shocking votes in the history of Congress.”

“If there’s one thing we should all agree on, it’s protecting the lives of innocent babies,” Trump added.

More than 2,000 aborted children to be buried in South Bend

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 13:35

South Bend, Ind., Feb 11, 2020 / 11:35 am (CNA).- The remains of more than two thousand aborted children discovered in a garage belonging to deceased abortionist Dr. Ulrich Klopfer will be laid to rest on Wednesday.

The remains will be buried on Wednesday at Southlawn Cemetery in South Bend, Indiana, with state Attorney General Curtis Hill scheduled to attend and address the service on behalf of the state. Representatives from Right to Life Michiana will lead a prayer service following Hill’s speech. 

On Sunday, February 23, there will be an additional memorial service to honor the aborted children. That service is being jointly organized by Right to Life Michiana, Lake County Right to Life, and Right to Life Northeast Indiana. 

On Sept. 12 last year, a little more than a week after Klopfer died, the medically-preserved remains of 2,246 aborted babies were found in boxes in his garage, along with patient records. Klopfer, who lived in Will County, IL, was a prolific abortionist who at one point operated three clinics throughout the state of Indiana.

In October, 2019, additional aborted children were discovered in the trunk of one of Klopfer’s cars, bringing the total to 2,411. The children were all aborted between 2000 and 2003, with the majority dating from 2000 to 2002.

During his decades-long career as an abortionist, Klopfer is estimated to have aborted more than 30,000 children. His medical license was temporarily suspended by the state of Indiana in 2015 and indefinitely in 2016, after numerous complaints were made against him to state authorities. He admitted to performing abortions on two 13 year-old girls and not reporting the cases to the state in a timely manner. His Fort Wayne clinic was reported by the state’s medical board to be “rundown,” and he charged adult patients extra for pain medication.

Klopfer also admitted to performing an abortion on a 10 year-old girl in Illinois, who had been raped by her uncle, while not reporting her case to the authorities.

In December 2019, the Indiana Attorney General’s office released a preliminary report investigating the discovery of the fetal remains. Due to Klopfer’s death, there will not be any charges filed. 

“The troubling discovery of 2,411 fetal remains from Indiana abortion clinics was a shock to our state and our nation alike, and my office is proud to lead the investigation of this horrific situation to bring answers and closure to all those impacted,” Indiana Attorney Hill said in the report issued by his office.

“My office continues to work diligently on the investigation of the circumstances leading to this discovery, and I intend to provide for a dignified burial of these remains in accordance with Indiana law so these remains may finally rest in peace,” said Hill.

The report said that the preliminary investigation found that Klopfer failed to properly dispose of fetal remains as required by Indiana law.

The children were unable to be identified, said Hill at the time.

Former mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg, who is currently a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president, said in September that he found the discovery to be “extremely disturbing,” and he supported an investigation. He also said that he hoped the discovery of the hoarded aborted children will not used to further restrict abortion rights.

“I hope that it doesn’t get caught up in politics at a time when women need access to healthcare,” he added. Buttigieg has since repeated his support for abortion up until the child takes its first breath.

As mayor, Buttigieg attempted to block the construction of a crisis pregnancy center aiming to offer support to women considering abortion in South Bend. Buttigieg instead supported the operation of Whole Women’s Health, an abortion clinic operating without a license and administered by a former employee of Klopfer.

Catholic community mourns death of Arizona priest in car crash 

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 02:26

Tucson, Ariz., Feb 11, 2020 / 12:26 am (CNA).- The Diocese of Tucson has announced the death of a local priest, who was killed in a car crash Friday.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that our dear Fr. Raul Valencia, Pastor of Santa Monica Parish in Tucson, was in a tragic car accident today and has died,” said Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson in a Facebook post Friday.

“This news comes as a tremendous shock to his family, parishioners, and friends. Department of Public Safety officers informed his family that death was instantaneous,” the bishop said.

“I kindly ask your prayers for our dear Fr. Valencia, his family, and his parish. Of course, the death of a priest also affects the body of the presbyterate profoundly. Let us keep one another in prayer as well.”

According to local media, Valencia was involved in a two-car collision along Interstate 19 on the morning of Feb. 7, as he travelled to visit family in Nogales, which is near where the accident occurred.

The diocese announced that a viewing for Valencia will take place Feb. 10 from 6-10 p.m. A funeral Mass will take place the following day at 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Nogales, with local Bishop José Leopoldo González of Nogales as the main celebrant.

Another funeral Mass will be held Feb. 11 at 1:30 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson. The priest will then be buried at Holy Hope Cemetery in Tucson.

Valencia, 60, was ordained a priest in 2003 following a career as a dentist. He owned his own practice for 11 years in Nogales, Mexico - a border town opposite of Nogales, Arizona - where he was born and raised.

He ended his practice in 1997 when he began attending Seminario Juan Navarrete y Guerrero. The next year, he transferred to Assumption Seminary in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas, where he finished his theological studies in 2002.

Following his ordination, Valencia was assigned to St. Monica’s, where he served for a year in 2003. He was then assigned to St. Jude Thaddeus in San Luis, Arizona, where he served until he became the pastor of St. Monica’s in 2011.

Father Edson Elizarras, the pastor at Saint Christopher's in nearby Marana, had known Valencia since high school. He told KVOA 4 that the priest was a man of tremendous character.

“He was very supportive and always said 'Si se puede, you can do it, don't be afraid, take courage in the Lord',” Elizarras said.

 

Bishop Paprocki provides pastoral guide on gender identity

Mon, 02/10/2020 - 21:01

Springfield, Ill., Feb 10, 2020 / 07:01 pm (CNA).- Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois issued a pastoral guide last month regarding diocesan policies on gender identity, expounding on existing policy that schools and other diocesan institutions will recognize students and adults by the biological sex with which they were born.

In the guide, Paprocki noted the need to approach the issue with compassion and sensitivity, while also adhering to Church teaching and the truth.

“Gender dysphoria is a real psychological condition, in which a biological male or female believes he or she is the opposite gender,” Paprocki noted.

“It is of paramount importance to handle such situations with gentle and compassionate pastoral skill and concern. All forms of discrimination and harsh treatment must be strongly resisted and corrected,” he said.

Families face great difficulties when they have a child experiencing gender dysphoria, Paprocki said, and he encouraged parents to help their child through their confusion without reinforcing the confusion and making their child think their problem will be “solved” with surgical or hormonal interventions.

“Such treatments, especially for children, are invasive and disruptive physically, chemically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually,” Paprocki said. “Fueling the confusion that families face in these circumstances is not merciful. For the sake of the family and the loved one, it is imperative to be clear on the reality of human biology as a gift from God that we cannot change.”

The bishop also noted that Pope Francis has expressed concerns with transgender ideology. In an April 2015 general audience, Pope Francis said: “the so-called gender theory is not an expression of frustration and resignation, which seeks to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it. Yes, we risk taking a step backwards. The removal of difference, in fact, creates a problem, not a solution.”

Paprocki said that “The Holy Father’s concerns are grounded in the Church teaching, that our identities as male and female are part of God’s good design in Creation, that our bodies and sexual identities are gifts from God, and that we should accept and care for our bodies as they were created.”

According to diocesan policy, students and adult employees or volunteers in all diocesan agencies and activities will be referred to by pronouns that correspond with their biological sex, and will be expected to use bathrooms and other facilities according to biological sex. All diocesan records will also record the person’s biological sex.

The policy notes that it encourages counseling with a counselor who has a Christian anthropology and adheres to Catholic teaching. It adds that “the Church recognizes that appropriate medical care may be necessary in rare cases of true genetic or physical anomalies, such as hermaphroditism or intersex.”

“A person cannot change his or her gender. A person should accept and seek to live in conformity with his or her sexual identity as determined at birth,” Paprocki said.

According to a Catholic understanding of the human person, people are a union of body and soul, and that body is “created male or female,” Paprocki said, which is a “constitutive aspect of the human person.”

The Church considers any medical interventions that remove or destroy healthy reproductive organs as “a type of mutilation and intrinsically evil. Procedures, surgeries, and therapies designed to assist a person in ‘transitioning’ his or her gender are morally prohibited,” he noted.

Just as anorexia is a condition in which one’s perception is separated from reality, Paprocki noted, gender dysphoria is a similar separation of perception and reality, and those with the condition should be helped to accept reality rather than their false perception of it.

“None the less, the presentation of this truth must be made with love, compassion, and patience. As the policy itself states, our schools, parishes and other institutions embrace with compassion those families and individuals with gender dysphoria and patiently supports them in their journey,” he said.

“However, it must be clear that our schools and Church institutions (including sacramental records and school records) will refer to such persons with the gender pronouns, along with bathroom and locker room use and sports activities that acknowledge their God-given biology.”

“Some families may not be willing to agree with this approach, and we need to respect their freedom; but they must likewise respect the Church’s duty to adhere to revealed truth if they are to participate actively and fully in our faith community, especially our Catholic schools,” he added.

One group that has expressed disagreement with and dismay at the policy is DignityUSA, an advocacy group “Celebrating the wholeness and holiness of LGBTQI Catholics.”

In a statement, Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, said Paprocki’s pastoral guide is “perilous to the physical and mental health of transgender and nonbinary people” because it displays “a dangerous and willful ignorance of current medical and mental health standards.”

In his guide, Paprocki noted that it was not sufficient as a whole response to the growing transgender movement and the threats that it poses, but that it was “a foundation of clarity and certainty regarding Church teaching regarding human biology, sexuality, and morality.”

He urged pastors and school leaders to come to the Vicar for Priests and the Vicar General or the Superintendent of Schools for further guidance on particular situations involving gender dysphoria and gender identity.

'A disturbing time in America': Pro-life Dems respond to Sanders

Mon, 02/10/2020 - 19:00

Washington D.C., Feb 10, 2020 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- Pro-life Democrats responded on Monday to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' suggestion that there is no room in the party for pro-lifers.

“It’s a disturbing time in America,” Louisiana state senator Katrina Jackson (D) told CNA, “when the party that’s supposed to be the big tent party, that has always had differing views not only on abortion but also on other issues, begins to have candidates that try to close off the party to those with diverse views.”

“Across our country, there are pro-life people of all political persuasions and I don’t believe it makes sense for any party to try to exclude people because of their position on life,” Rep. Colin Peterson (D-Minn.) said to CNA on Monday.

Democratic presidential candidates continued their support of legalized abortion over the weekend, while in New Hampshire for Tuesday’s primary.

At a debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, hosted by ABC News on Friday evening, candidates pledged that they would implement a litmus test on abortion for judicial candidates, and push to codify legal abortion.

On Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—the longest-serving politically independent member of Congress in U.S. history—said that support for abortion “is an absolutely essential part of being a Democrat.”

Sanders, in addition to running for the Democratic presidential nomination this year, ran for the party’s nomination in 2016 but has always served as a political independent while in the House and Senate.

“By this time in history, I think, when we talk about what a Democrat is, I think being pro-choice is essentially—an essential part of that,” Sanders said on Saturday at a presidential forum co-hosted by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Demand Justice Initiative.

Jackson, in response, told CNA on Monday that Sanders’ rhetoric is unpresidential.

“What you’ve said to America is ‘I cannot assume the role as president and represent all Americans’,” Jackson said.

She said that abortion is a “Christian issue,” and thus “for Christians who read the Word and understand the Word,” to say the party has no room for pro-lifers, “you’re essentially saying is there’s no room in the party for a Christian who follows God’s Word.”

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who was the unofficial winner of last week’s Iowa caucuses, on Saturday reiterated previous campaign trail statements that he supports legal abortion even if pro-life Democrats oppose him because of the issue.

“We are a big tent,” he said, acknowledging that some people identify both as a Democrat and as pro-life. However, he added, he will not soften his pro-abortion platform to get pro-life Democratic votes.

“What I’m not going to do is get somebody’s vote by tricking them,” he said, noting that any attempts to criminalize abortion and punish women or doctors “is simply not consistent with the values that draw me to the Democratic party.”

Candidate Andrew Yang at Saturday’s forum that one “pro-life voter” told him his policy of providing $1,000-per-month universal basic income would support women in need, and that the voter would support Yang because of this.

“I have zero compromise when it comes to women’s reproductive rights,” said Yang, who has previously said abortion at any point in pregnancy should be up to the woman.

However, Yang said that abortion should not be celebrated—an answer that drew a rebuke from the head of NARAL.

“I think we have to get back to the point where no one is suggesting that we should be celebrating an abortion at any point in the pregnancy,” Yang said

He added that “it’s a tragedy, to me, if someone decides that they don’t want to have a child, and they’re on the fence, and that maybe at some point later—it’s a very, very difficult personal decision, and it should be something that we’re very, very sensitive to.”

Ilyse Hogue,  the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, tweeted in response, “This was a bad take” which “shows a dangerous ignorance about abortions later in pregnancy and it perpetuates stigma of women who choose not to have families for reasons that are varied and very much none of our business.”

At Friday’s debate, candidates also promised they would only appoint pro-abortion candidates to the federal judiciary, and said they would codify Roe v. Wade.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said that legal abortion is “a fundamental value of the Constitution, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) advocated for “a national law to protect the right of a woman’s choice.”

Sanders pledged not to “nominate any person to the Supreme Court, or the federal courts in general, who is not 100% Roe v. Wade,” and pushed to “significantly expand funding for Planned Parenthood.”

On Saturday, Buttigieg said that “the American people” largely support the Roe v. Wade “framework” of few restrictions on abortion earlier in pregnancies and “very few exceptions” late in pregnancy.

Buttigieg, however, did not give limits on late-term abortion that he supported, saying instead that “the time has come to trust women to make decisions for themselves.”

For late-term abortions, he said, “usually we’re talking about cases where, by definition, if it’s late-term, a parent, a family, a woman is expecting to carry a pregnancy to term and then gets devastating medical news” about her health or the health of the baby.”

“That creates an unthinkable situation,” he said, and “that decision will not be made any better, medically or morally, because it is being dictated by some government official.”

Chicago archdiocese announces nearly two dozen parish mergers, closings

Mon, 02/10/2020 - 18:01

Chicago, Ill., Feb 10, 2020 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Chicago announced Thursday the latest round of parish mergers and closures as part of Cardinal Blase Cupich’s “Renew my Church” initiative.

The mergers mostly affect parishes in Chicago proper, as well as in the suburbs of Waukegan and Elk Grove Village.

Most of the mergers announced Feb. 6 involve the merging of two or more parishes, many of which have schools associated with them. Two of the new groupings include the merging of four current parishes into one.

The groupings are currently named 63rd Street, South Shore, West Ridge, Elk Grove Village, Southwest, East Side, Waukegan, and Ss. Genevieve and Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr. The as-yet unnamed merged parishes will be able to propose new name ideas to Cupich, according to an announcement from the archdiocese.

Feedback and Discernment Teams made up of representatives from each of the parishes and schools involved in the groupings met to review and discern the future parish, school, and church structures for their respective areas, and submitted feedback reports to the Archdiocesan Standards and Recommendations Commission, the archdiocese said.

The commission met to review the feedback reports and other materials and information, including demographic data, financial summaries, and parish and grouping trends. Cardinal Cupich, his auxiliary bishops, and the Presbyteral Council discussed the recommendations and ultimately made the decisions for the mergers.

Cupich announced the Renew my Church initiative in 2016, and at the time around 100 parish closures were expected amid a shortage of priests and church buildings in need of repair, the Tribune reports.

The mergers will take effect July 1.

The mergers will bring the number of parishes in the archdiocese below 300, from more than 350 in 2016 and almost 450 in the mid-1980s, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The archdiocese announced the closure of five elementary schools in January, citing declining enrollment.

Reporting from the Chicago Tribune suggests that the Chicago archdiocese could be facing as much as $200 million in debts from clerical abuse settlements.

“Over the next few months, the archdiocese and the pastors of the current parishes will support the communities in their transition to the new parish and school structures,” the archdiocesan announcement concluded.

“All parishes will embark on the next phase of the renewal process to become a stronger, more sustainable presence for the future, capable of reaching more people in their work of making disciples of Jesus Christ, building communities with one another and inspiring witness in the world around us.”

‘Canceled’ radical feminists and the Catholic Church: These unlikely allies believe women are female

Mon, 02/10/2020 - 17:25

Washington D.C., Feb 10, 2020 / 03:25 pm (CNA).- This article is the first part of a two-part series on the Church, gender-critical feminists, and transgender ideology. Part two will be published on Feb. 11.

Mary Kate Fain doesn't agree with the Catholic Church about anything. Or, nearly anything, at least. But she does agree with the Catholic take on gender and identity. And that's cost her. A lot.

Last July, Fain wrote a piece critiquing non-binary gender identities. She questioned why so many of her female friends felt the need to shed their identities as women and to instead identify as “non-binary” - neither male nor female.

Fain published the piece on Medium, an online social publishing platform.

Not long after the article published, Fain was fired from her job as a software engineer. She claims her viewpoints are the reason she was let go. “I guess one of my coworkers complained about the article and I was fired. And since then it just started the slew of cancellation,” Fain told CNA.

“I was canceled from conferences, and canceled for multiple groups that I was a volunteer in, et cetera. And it just really highlighted to me that they all wanted to shut me up, but what it proved was that there really is a need for a place for women to be able to say this.”

Since her firing, Fain, a millennial and freelance writer living just outside of Houston, founded 4W, an online publication that publishes articles analyzing radical feminist issues such as gender, male violence, sex positivity, and the portrayal of women in media. She is also co-founder of the feminist social media platform Spinster.xyz, and a volunteer with the Women’s Human Rights Campaign.

And she is just one of many “canceled” women.

Why women are being “canceled”

Fain, along with several other women writers, intellectuals, and activists, have been “canceled” for their conviction that women are adult human females, whose sex-based rights, such as the right to female-only spaces like bathrooms or sports teams or therapy groups, deserve protection.

This view is no longer seen as politically correct by some tastemakers and gatekeepers, because it is “trans-exclusionary” - to hold this view means to hold that a man cannot “become” a woman because he identifies as one, and vice versa.

“...this is not something that you're supposed to say,” Fain said. “We're supposed to just blindly accept what anyone says about their own identity, without any critical analysis, without any feminist analysis even. We're supposed to ignore that sex-based oppression exists and just admit, ‘Oh yes, we are what we say we are and that defines our reality.’”

“But I think for any feminist, any real feminist, we know that that just simply isn't true,” she added. “Our sex does define certain aspects of our reality, and people are not allowed to say that in today's day and age.”

Many women who hold this view refer to themselves as radical feminists, trans-exclusionary radical feminists or gender critical feminists, or even “canceled women.”

“Cancel culture” is a relatively new term, used to describe the phenomenon that happens when someone, usually a famous person or one with some kind of platform, experiences a kind of shunning, harassment, or social banishment for doing or saying something with which a lot of people disagree.

Being “canceled” can take many forms: being trolled or doxxed on social media, being banned from Twitter or other platforms, or finding that events featuring the canceled person are quickly, well, canceled.

In January, an event entitled “Evening with Canceled Women” was canceled by the New York Public Library, where the event was to be hosted.

The canceled event was organized by Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), a group that advocates for the “rights, privacy and safety of women and girls, by which we mean human females,” Kara Dansky, a board member with WoLF, told CNA.

“We were being told over the course of a week that the contract was being processed (for the event), and then the day before the deposit was due, we were told that we could not proceed with the event and we were not given a reason,” Dansky said.

The event would have included the voices of women “who have, in one way or another, been silenced or canceled as a result of their outspoken views on behalf of women and girls,” she added.

For example, the event would have featured Canadian feminist Megan Murphy, an advocate against pornography and prostitution whose insistence that women are female got her banned from Twitter, Dansky said.

It would also have included Posie Parker, a UK feminist known “for her insistence that the word woman means adult human female, which is simply the dictionary definition of the word,” Dansky said. Parker has also been banned from Twitter for her views.

The event also would have featured Linda Bellows, a Briton “who speaks on behalf of lesbian rights. And she has been told that it is transphobic to insist that lesbians are women who are attracted to women,” Dansky said.

These canceled women join a slew of others, with particularly high numbers in the UK, where the 2004 Gender Recognition Act lets adults register their gender as something other than the biological sex with which they were born.
 

Common ground with the Catholic Church

While trans-exclusionary radical feminist women typically hold many views with which the Catholic Church disagrees, such as approval of abortion and gay marriage, they share common ground in the belief that women are female and men are male - and they are born that way.

“It has been a tremendous plus to have radical feminists speaking out so strongly about the reality of sexual difference and against the new tyranny of gender,” Mary Rice Hasson, the Kate O’Beirne Fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and director of the Catholic Women’s Forum, told CNA.

“Although we disagree about many things – most significantly about abortion-– we agree on some important truths about women,” she said, such as opposing violence and exploitation against women, as well as “the importance of acknowledging the reality of sexual difference and the dangers of the transgender agenda.”

“Specifically, we agree that sexual difference is real, that males and females are different in significant ways, and that a person’s sex cannot change,” Hasson said.

“The Church’s vision of the human person differs radically from gender ideology,” Hasson noted. “Christian anthropology teaches that the person is a unity of body and soul, that we are created male or female, forever.”

“Gender ideology, in contrast, imagines the person as a bundle of assorted dimensions,” she said, such as gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and biological sex, none of which “needs to align – the person is self-determining. God is really not in the driver’s seat.”

Fain said she agrees that gender identity, “this idea that we have an internal sense of being male, female or neither, and that this has any effect on our material reality, is nonsense.”

Dansky, whose group’s primary goals are to fight violence against and exploitation of women in rape, sexual and domestic assault, and pornography and prostitution, said that her work is made nearly impossible in the context of broad social disagreement about what makes someone a woman in the first place.

“It's very difficult to solve all of those problems when we’re not permitted to name the category of women,” she said.

“It's very interesting to me that when our society talks about domestic violence and rape and sexual assault, and we talk about the rampant rates of these crimes being perpetrated against women and girls, everybody knows what the words ‘women’ and ‘girls’ mean.”

In light of increasing acceptance of transgender ideology, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education’s issued a document entitled “Male and Female He Created Them” last June, explaining the Church’s teaching on transgender issues and encouraging dialogue with those experiencing gender dysphoria.

The document cited the need to reaffirm “the metaphysical roots of sexual difference” to help refute “attempts to negate the male-female duality of human nature, from which the family is generated.”

Such a negation “erases the vision of human beings as the fruit of an act of creation” and “creates the idea of the human person as a sort of abstraction who ‘chooses for himself what his nature is to be.’”

Theories of gender, whether moderate or radical, agree that “one’s gender ends up being viewed as more important than being of male or female sex,” according to the document, which also reflects on the role of gender theory in education and speaks of a “crisis” in any alliance between the school and the family.

“Although ideologically-driven approaches to the delicate questions around gender proclaim their respect for diversity, they actually run the risk of viewing such differences as static realities and end up leaving them isolated and disconnected from each other,” it said.

The document called for dialogue, and the protection of human and family rights. It also decried unjust discrimination and noted points of unity among people with different perspectives on gender ideology.

“Key allies“

Looking for concrete examples of common ground, Fain told CNA that she thinks that protecting the freedom of speech of those who oppose transgenderism will be one of the most important things that radical feminists and Christians can work together for.

“(W)e need to deal with this freedom of speech issue that's happening and cancel culture, which is making most people terrified to speak out on the issue,” she said.

Fain noted that when she wrote the controversial article that got her fired, she had anticipated the backlash and had been saving for months to protect herself from the blow. She recognized that most people cannot afford to lose their jobs for speaking up on this issue.

“Most people can't, and especially women who are already at a financial disadvantage are more likely to be caring for kids,” she said.

“And people are terrified to speak out on this issue because of the serious economic consequences that are happening.”

“And although I have many issues with the right in general, I will say that I think religious freedom and freedom of speech do go hand in hand,” Faid added.

“And so the Church’s work on that is probably relevant here.”

Hasson identified women like Fain as “key allies” in the fight against transgenderism going forward, and said she looks forward to working with them despite differences on other issues. 

“Radical feminists have been fearless in speaking the truth about sexual difference - over social media, at universities, and in public hearings. They have refused to be silenced - even after being ridiculed, ‘de-platformed’ at public universities, or having their Twitter accounts shut down,” Hasson said.

“We differ greatly about abortion and our views of men, but I am hopeful that our work together and personal regard for each other will open up some opportunities in the future for discussions about those areas where we disagree. But for now, I’m grateful for their commitment to speak the truth, even at great personal cost.”

 

This article is the first part of a two-part series on the Church, gender-critical feminists, and transgender ideology. Part two will be published on Feb. 11.

National Marriage Week highlights 'special grace' of domestic Church

Mon, 02/10/2020 - 15:00

Washington D.C., Feb 10, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will once again observe National Marriage Week as part of the celebration of World Marriage Day.

World Marriage Day is the second Sunday of February each year. This year, it was held on February 9. 

National Marriage Week gives people “the opportunity to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting, promoting, and upholding marriage and the family,” the bishops’ conference said in a statement. 

Since National Marriage Week USA was created in 2010, there has been a theme selected that guides the year’s programming. 

This year’s theme, “Stories from the Domestic Church,” was chosen to reflect how “spouses are consecrated and by means of a special grace build up the Body of Christ and form a domestic Church,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco.

Cordileone leads the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, and Family life. 

During the week, the conference will release special resources for married couples, including a preaching aid for priests, an insert for a weekly church bulletin, and a weeklong virtual marriage retreat for married couples. The retreat, which can be found on the USCCB’s “For Your Marriage” website, is available in both English and Spanish. 

The retreat will include stories from couples who “live out the call of love and form ‘domestic churches’ within their immediate and extended families,” said the USCCB. 

On February 12, the USCCB will live-stream a rosary “for married couples and families in need of healing” on their official Facebook page at 3:00 p.m. 

World Marriage Day was first celebrated in 1983, and was created by the organization Worldwide Marriage Encounter. Worldwide Marriage Encounter is a Catholic lay ministry which supports married couples.

St. Valentine: How a beheaded martyr became the poster child for romantic love

Sun, 02/09/2020 - 18:26

Chicago, Ill., Feb 9, 2020 / 04:26 pm (CNA).- In most stores in the weeks leading up to St. Valentine’s day, you’re likely to find a plethora of pink and red cards, heart-shaped boxes of Russell Stover chocolates, and decor with nearly-naked chubby cherubs shooting hearts with bows and arrows.

It’s a far cry from the real Saint Valentine, an early Christian martyr who was bludgeoned and beheaded for his faith.

It’s also a far cry from an early Roman fertility ritual also celebrated on February 14, where men ran through the streets slapping women with the flesh of recently-sacrificed animals.

So how did a saint with such a gruesome death come to be associated with a holiday all about love, chocolates, and chubby cherubs?

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, at least three different St. Valentines were recorded in early histories of martyrs under the date of February 14. There are also accounts of an African St. Valentine, an early Christian who was persecuted along with his companions, but it seems that nothing else is known about this possible saint.

The St. Valentine celebrated today may have been two different people. One account holds that St. Valentine was a priest in Rome, and the other says that he was a bishop of Interamna (modern-day Terni). Both of these men were persecuted and ultimately killed for their faith, and buried somewhere along the Flaminian Way. It is also possible that they were the same person.

“He was either a Roman priest and physician who was martyred or he was the Bishop of Terni, Italy, who was also martyred in Rome, around 270 A.D. by Claudius the Goth,” who was the Roman emperor at the time, said Fr. Brendan Lupton, an associate professor of Church history at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois.

St. Valentine - whether priest or bishop - was martyred on February 14, now celebrated as Valentine’s Day. According to most accounts, he was beaten and then beheaded, after a time of imprisonment.

Local devotion to him spread, and Pope Julius I had a basilica dedicated to the saint built approximately two miles from Rome, over Valentine’s burial place. His skull is now kept in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Rome, and is decorated with flower crowns on his feast day.

Lupton said St. Valentine was one of the first Christian martyrs when the general persecution of Christians started in the Roman empire.

“More or less at that time, especially around the mid-third century, there was sort of a crisis in the Roman world known as the Third Century Crisis, where the Roman world was really in great peril,” Lupton told CNA. “There was a great amount of inflation. There were barbarian incursions at the time. There was lots of political instability. So that was sort of unleashed the first general persecution of Christians. Prior to that time, there were local persecutions, but they were local and sporadic.”

Some Valentine’s Day traditions can be correlated with St. Valentine’s life, such as the exchanging of cards, Lupton said, or the celebration of romantic love.

“One (account) was that he had befriended the jailer's daughter, where he was being imprisoned, and when he died, he left her a note inscribed with ‘From your Valentine,’” Lupton said. Other accounts say that exchanging cards on Valentine’s Day recalls how St. Valentine would send notes to fellow Christians from prison.

“Another story is that Claudius the Goth actually had prohibited marriage amongst soldiers. He felt that if soldiers were married, they'd be less devoted to the army, especially at that time and they needed as many troops as possible. So there was a legend that Valentine actually had married soldiers in secret,” Lupton said.

Another way St. Valentine’s Day may have come to be celebrated as a day of love was because the bird mating season was thought to begin around mid-February, Lupton noted.

St. Valentine’s Day as it is known today was also instituted as a substitute for a cruder Roman holiday at the time, called Lupercalia, Lupton added.

Lupercalia was a popular feast celebrated in Rome, during which a group of pagan priests would sacrifice different types of animals and then run through the streets of Rome, slapping young women with the animal hides, a ritual that was thought to guarantee their health and fertility for the year.

“And so Pope Gelasius, he was around the fifth century...replaced the Lupercalia with Saint Valentine's Day,” Lupton said.

Parts of Valentine’s Day are entirely unrelated to the real St. Valentine. He did not, for instance, go around shooting people (or even hearts for that matter) with bows and arrows. That imagery was taken from the Roman god Cupid, who was also a god of love, Lupton said.

He also did not distribute chocolates to his loved ones; the real St. Valentine predates chocolates as we know them by more than 1500 years.

But Christians can still learn from the example of St. Valentine, Lupton said, even if they are not at risk of actual martyrdom.

“You could say that in some ways, although few are called to martyrdom as Christians, in almost every act of love, there's an element of self-sacrifice, self-renunciation,” he said.

 

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