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New York Archdiocese announces appeal over Fulton Sheen court decision  

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 14:21

New York City, N.Y., Jun 15, 2018 / 12:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of New York announced on Friday that the Trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral are appealing a court decision that would allow Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s body to be moved to Peoria, Ill., as his cause for beatification proceeds.

The Trustees, who oversee archdiocesan seminaries, “believe that the recent court case concerning the earthly remains of Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was again incorrectly decided, and will seek an appeal of that decision along with a stay on moving the remains while the appellate court considers the case,” said a June 15 statement.

“At issue in the case, as the appellate court noted in its reversal of the trial court’s original decision, is what were Archbishop’s Sheen’s personal wishes concerning his final resting place,” the statement said.

“As Trustees, it is our responsibility to respect those wishes, and we believe that this most recent decision once again fails to consider those wishes and instead relies on the speculation and conjecture of others.”  

Last week, the Superior Court of New York ruled in favor of Joan Sheen Cunningham, who had petitioned to move the body of her uncle, Venerable Fulton Sheen, to the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria. The body of the late archbishop is currently in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Judge Arlene Bluth, ruled that “the location of Archbishop Sheen's final resting place would not have been his primary concern” and that “it makes no sense, given his lifelong devotion to the Catholic Church, that he would choose a location over the chance to become a saint.”

The Peoria diocese opened the cause for Sheen’s canonization in 2002 after Archdiocese of New York said it would not explore the case. In 2012, Benedict XVI recognized the heroic virtues of the archbishop.

However, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria suspended the beatification cause in September 2014 on the grounds that the Holy See expected Sheen’s remains to be in the Peoria diocese.

The Archdiocese of New York, however, has said that Vatican officials have said the Peoria diocese can pursue Sheen’s canonization regardless of whether his body is at rest there.

Sheen was born in Illinois in 1895, 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. He retired in 1969 and moved back to New York City until his death in 1979.

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

Cunningham has 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 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.

In the New York Superior Court decision, Bluth ruled that “Mrs. Cunningham has offered a sound reason and a laudable purpose for her petition” and that Sheen “would care much less about the location of his earthly remains than his ability … to continue to serve man and God on a grand scale after his earthly demise.”

Both the Diocese of Peoria and the Archdiocese of New York have voiced prayers that the beatification cause may move forward in a timely manner.

Archbishop 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, 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.

Archbishop Sheen’s intercession is credited with the miraculous recovery of a pronounced stillborn American baby from the Peoria area.

In June 2014, a panel of theologians that advises the Congregation for the Causes of Saints ruled that the baby’s recovery was miraculous.

The baby, later named James Fulton Engstrom, was born in September 2010 showing no signs of life. As medical professionals tried to revive him, his parents prayed for his recovery through the intercession of Fulton Sheen.

Although the baby showed no pulse for an hour after his birth, his heart started beating again and he escaped serious medical problems.


'Much-needed' initiative aims to protect churches from zoning discrimination

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 08:31

Washington D.C., Jun 15, 2018 / 06:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Protecting places of worship from zoning discrimination is the focus of a new initiative from the Department of Justice, announced earlier this week.  

The ‘Place to Worship’ initiative aims to increase awareness of religious institutions’ right to build, expand, buy or rent facilities.

These land-use provisions are already provided for in the 2000 Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which protects religious institutions from discriminatory or unduly burdensome zoning practices. However, these rights have come under threat recently in several legal cases.

In a statement announcing the initiative, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the provisions protect not only the private act of worship, but the public exercise of religion provided for in the Constitution.

"Under the laws of this country, government cannot discriminate against people based on their religion - not in law enforcement, not in grant-making, not in hiring, and not in local zoning laws,” Sessions said. “President Trump is an unwavering defender of the right of free exercise, and under his leadership, the Department of Justice is standing up for the rights of all Americans. By raising awareness about our legal rights, the Place to Worship Initiative will help us bring more civil rights cases, win more cases, and prevent discrimination from happening in the first place."

Goals of the new initiative include raising awareness of these rights through community outreach events, educating municipal officials and religious organizations about RLUIPA’s requirements, and providing additional training and resources for federal prosecutors regarding these cases.

The DOJ also launched a new website containing additional information about RLUIPA for religious institutions and lawyers, as well as a complaint portal and Q&A section.

Non-profit legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which has represented several religious clients in RLUIPA lawsuits, applauded the initiative for providing a “much-needed” focus on religious freedom.

“No city should use its zoning laws to engage in religious discrimination. Unfortunately, in the 18 years since Congress passed RLUIPA, local governments have done just that, blatantly disregarding the law,” ADF Senior Counsel Erik Stanley, director of the ADF Center for Christian Ministries, said in a statement.

“For that reason, we commend the Department of Justice and the Trump administration for placing a much-needed focus on the freedoms churches and other religious groups have under this federal law,” he added.

Alongside the DOJ’s announcement on Tuesday, the Department added that it was filing a  lawsuit against the Borough of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, for the denial of zoning approval for an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in three separate instances.

In their statement, ADF also noted three specific RLUIPA cases in which they have recently been involved, including a lawsuit they filed earlier this month against the city of Monroe, North Carolina, for a zoning code that effectively bans At the Cross Fellowship Baptist Church from holding worship services in its rented facilities.


Commentary: Immigration and 'canonical penalties'

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 19:02

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jun 14, 2018 / 05:02 pm (CNA).- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is meeting this week in Fort Lauderdale for its annual spring session. The bishops have had serious discussion about a number of issues, among them immigration. On Wednesday, their discussion took an unexpected turn.

Speaking on the topic of the Trump Administration’s immigration and asylum policies and enforcement, Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tuscon, Ariz., suggested that the Church might consider subjecting Catholics involved in the enforcement of immigration policy to “canonical penalties.”

It was an arresting suggestion, and one which caused a bit of a stir on social media.

As the bishops discussed immigration and human dignity, Bishop Weisenburger posed the following question which, for context, deserves to be quoted at length:

“In light of the canonical penalties that are there for life issues, I’m simply asking the question if perhaps our canonical affairs committee could give recommendations, at least to those of us who are border bishops, on the possibility of canonical penalties for Catholics who are involved in this? I think the time is there for prophetic statement. I also think that even though what I am saying might be a little risky or dangerous, I think it is important to point out that canonical penalties are there in place to heal. First and foremost to heal. And therefore, for the salvation of these people’s souls, maybe it’s time for us to look at canonical penalties.”

Bishop Weisenburger holds a licentiate in canon law. As he began his remarks, he described himself self-deferentially as a “plumber canonist” focused on “keeping things moving through the pipes,” rather than an expert in legal theory. And made clear that he was posing a question for further reflection, not offering a well-developed plan of action. But his question does merit reflection.  

Although I am not a member of the USCCB’s committee on canonical affairs, I would like to offer a few thoughts, from the perspective of a canon lawyer, and one deeply concerned with the crisis of human rights at the border.

First, it is not immediately clear what the bishop meant by referring to those “involved in this.”

The bishops’ discussion covered a number of specific immigration issues; it is not clear whether Weisenberger meant that penalties might incurred through the separation of children from parents, the rejection of morally deserving asylum applications, or the general, and deplorable, tone and language used by some parts of the administration in the discussion of immigration issues - language that offends the human dignity of would-be immigrants and asylum applicants.

We also do not know if Bishop Weisenburger had in mind something as specific as punishing individual Border Patrol officers, ICE agents, or court officials enforcing the policy of separating children from parents, or whether he meant a broader sense of cooperation with federal immigration laws.

“This” is a small word for a very big and complicated issue. Before the canonical affairs committee could offer any sort of advice, the scope of the question needs to be made clearer.

But even from first glance, it can be said that, however well-intentioned the bishop is, immigration policy is not a subject that lends itself easily to canonical legislation and penalties.

For a start, canonical penalties are not easily imposed. Many Catholics, for example, are familiar with the concept of latae sententiae excommunication, by which a penalty is incurred by committing some forbidden act. But latae sententiae excommunications are not a simple concept.  

In order for a latae sententiae penalty to have canonical effects - to, for example, bar a Catholic from Holy Communion - the penalty has to be imposed or declared by a competent authority.

It seems unlikely that Bishop Weisenburger had in mind a system whereby individual bishops name individual Catholics for punishment.

Bishop Weisenburger was right to say that, in the vast majority of case, penalties are imposed medicinally by the Church, for the reform of the offender and for their own good. But for that reason, the Church requires that offenders be warned and called to reform before penalties are imposed. Exactly how Catholics “involved” in problematic immigration enforcement could be effectively warned is hard to see. Would ICE officers, for example, be placed in a position where their bishops told them to quit their jobs or be prepared to refuse to uphold the law?  

Indeed, when we try to apply the concept of canonical sanctions to those involved in immigration enforcement, matters get even more complicated.        

Assume, for example, that Bishop Weisenburger had a narrow and specific application in mind: that individual law enforcement officers physically separating families should be subject to canonical penalties.

To what act would a canonical penalty be attached? Bishop Weisenburger referenced existing canonical penalties for “life issues,” but these penalties are only incurred through very specific acts - the taking of human life through abortion or homicide.

If the act of physically removing a child from their parents on behalf of the government were to become the basis for a canonical penalty, would the penalty apply in all circumstances, or only on a case-by-case basis? If it applied to all cases, this would seem to negate the possibility that in some cases, even if rarely, the child’s welfare might clearly be otherwise at risk. If it is to be applied selectively, who would be the judge of when, and how, and what information would be used to make that judgment?

Those establishing such a norm would need to discern whether there are legitimate circumstances in which children could be separated from their parents, and carefully discern the implications of directing Catholics to disobey their legal obligations.

Bishop Weisenburger called rightfully for a “prophetic statement” against a public iniquity. The problem with his canonical suggestion is that prophetic witness of the Church does not naturally lend itself to the language of canon law, still less penal law.

Speaking just before Bishop Weisenburger, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces spoke about the need for “public visible gestures,” noting specific successes in closing abortion clinics through “constant and peaceful” means, including prayer vigils. He proposed that similar vigils outside federal courts hearing asylum and immigration cases might be suitable. Both bishops referenced Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark’s proposal that bishops visit the detention centers where children are held, to draw public attention, and hopefully censure, to them.

Those suggestions seem more constructive, plausible, and practical. They also have the benefit of targeting the policies and processes against which the bishops want to speak, rather than targeting individual Catholics. Federal policy and the administration’s efforts should be the focus of the Church’s efforts, at least for the time being.

Bishop Weisenburger referred to himself as the sort of bishop who usually shies away from using the “sledgehammer” of canonical penalties. This is a common sentiment among bishops. But in truth, penal law is not a sledgehammer, or some other instrument of blunt force. Penal law is, as the bishop later said, very strong medicine indeed. Strong medicine must be used carefully, with a clear diagnosis of the problem, its causes, and a plan for treatment. We are not yet there on the border.


In Florida, bishops' 'Faithful Citizenship' debate heats up

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:49

Miami, Fla., Jun 14, 2018 / 04:49 pm (CNA).- What some expected would be a brisk vote turned out to be a lengthy discussion at the USCCB general assembly meeting on Thursday, covering the future of the bishops’ guide to political engagement, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

At the end of the vigorous discussion, when the bishops eventually voted on the action item June 14 in Ft. Lauderdale, 77 percent supported a measure calling for the production of a short letter to inspire prayer and action regarding public life, and a short video and other secondary resources -- to complement rather than to replace the existing Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship document, and to apply the teachings of Pope Francis to our day.

Preceding the debate was a presentation by Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, who chairs the bishops’ working group on Faithful Citizenship. The working group is already looking ahead to the 2020 presidential election, and wants to produce “user-friendly” supplements to the document.

Gomez noted that Faithful Citizenship “has lasting value” but is too long, and perhaps not particularly accessible to those in the pews. While it does an excellent job of conveying information, he said the document lacks the ability to inspire voters, “so the task before us is to motivate the people to pray and to act.”

Archbishop Gomez noted three priorities for the working group: reminding Catholics that faith is prior to partisan politics- that faith “shapes Catholics first”, and they are “members of a political party second (or third or fourth)”; that Catholics are called to be faithful citizens at all times, continually; and that public discourse should be always civil.

The first bishop to respond to the Los Angeles archbishop was Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, who said he planned to vote against the working group’s proposal, citing an apparent need to replace Faithful Citizenship with an entirely new document reflecting the “new body of teaching” from Pope Francis on issues including climate change, poverty, and immigration.

“The way he presents those is a body of teaching we need to integrate into what we’re talking to our people about,” the cardinal stated.

He also commended the bishops for their civility in pursuing debates, saying that “Our discussion, even argumentation over various issues we disagree about has the potential to model how public civil discourse should take place.”

Cardinal Cupich, who lost an election to chair the bishops' pro-life committee to Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas in November 2017, was giving voice to a faction of bishops who have recently called for a significant reworking of Faithful Citizenship, though new revisions were adopted by the USCCB only three years ago.

Archbishop Gomez noted that producing an entirely new document to replace Faithful Citizenship would be a lengthy process, and that “the one we have is very good, theologically.”

Bishop John Stowe, O.F.M. Conv., of Lexington, said he supports the production of supplementary materials, but wants a new document, citing Cardinal Cupich's concerns, as well as "the new context we find ourselves in after the last election": environmental policies, immigration issues, nuclear proliferation, and gun control.

Bishop Michael Warfel of Great Falls-Billings echoed concern to include the perspective of Pope Francis in the US bishops’ citizenship guide.

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego charged that the current edition of Faithful Citizenship (last revised in 2015), doesn’t engage with current issues and “Catholic teaching as it is now.”

Since the 2016 election, he said, “legal and political institutions are being atrophied” and we are in “a radically different moment”, noting widespread opposition to immigration, profound racial divisions, and school shootings.

According to Bishop McElroy, Faithful Citizenship “doesn’t reflect the full-bodied teachings of Pope Francis,” mentioning in particular Gaudete et exsultate, saying that a wide variety of issues have “not a secondary, but a primary claim on conscience,” and that Faithful Citizenship “undermines that by its tendentious use of ‘intrinsic evil.’”

Bishop McElroy’s comments seemed to invoke the “consistent ethic of life,” or “seamless garment” approach of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. Supporters say the “seamless garment” perspective served to raise consciousness among Catholics regarding a number of issues which threaten human dignity; while critics say that it implied moral equivalency between abortion and other issues, diminishing the significance of abortion, and suggesting that there was not room for a diversity of opinion on other economic and social issues.

This “seamless garment” approach seemed to be rebuffed by St. John Paul II, who identified abortion as a uniquely grave offense against human life, but it has been revitalized by some thinkers in recent years.

Archbishop Gomez responded to Bishop McElroy, praising Faithful Citizenship, and saying that it is already a particularly long document, and a new document addressing new concerns would be even longer.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark indicated he would vote against the proposal, echoing the need for new content in a revision or replacement of Faithful Citizenship, and expressed concern over the “chasm between faith and life,” in which faith has been privatized.

Bishop Robert Barron, an auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles and a member of the working group on Faithful Citizenship, noted that the document is long, and the group didn't want to make it longer.

"We have to retain a lot of what's in there now, and we would just be making a much longer document" if it included the "Franciscan shift." He suggested that instead of a replacement document, video might be a much more effective means for conveying new priorities.

Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington responded that videos have to be quite short to keep people’s attention, and that “we need to rethink” Faithful Citizenship.

Bishop Jaime Soto chimed in to mention the “new paradigm” introduced by Pope Francis, including his encyclical Laudato si’, and said the proposal of supplementary materials might not take that new paradigm into sufficient account.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore suggested that the audience for Faithful Citizenship isn’t Catholics in the pews, but pastors and state Catholic conference staff members, and that the working group’s proposal to develop shorter, more consumer-friendly resources “would accomplish the goals I think we had set out for ourselves.”

Bishop George Thomas of Las Vegas called Faithful Citizenship lengthy and cumbersome, and said that it reaches state Catholic conferences and clergy but misses the mark in reaching the hearts of “ordinary people.”

He charged that the document has “serious lacunae,” and that there should be created a shorter, more user-friendly document which follows the model of Pope Francis.

In a carefully-composed piece of rhetoric, Bishop Thomas said the present pope has both substance (he “connects worship and compassion, liturgy and justice”), with an eye on the preferential option for the poor, and style (“he prefers dialogue over diatribe, persuasion over polemics, accompaniment over alienation”), and that the US bishops should take his example and “the content of his teaching” to revise or replace Faithful Citizenship.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois voiced his support for the working group’s proposal, noting the importance particularly of video for reaching people today -- on his flight to the meeting, he said, no-one was reading, they were all watching screens.

He urged that another lengthy document not be issued, and suggested a series of videos rather than a single one be produced, which suggestion was agreed upon by Archbishop Gomez.

Another Los Angeles auxiliary, Bishop David O’Connell, agreed with the proposal and suggested, “we need to take time to think about how Pope Francis’ teachings inform our pastoral practice.”

Bishop John Botean of the Romanian Eparchy of Saint George’s in Canton, was highly favorable to the use of video, but emphasized that “we need to know what will be said.”

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio suggested that the document underlying whatever content is put out is not the question, because “there was consensus” to get Faithful Citizenship adopted, and that the greater question is how to disseminate its message.

Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond indicated his support for the proposal, and added that individual bishops are able to issue pastoral letters themselves.

Intervening again, Bishop Botean suggested that the working group on Faithful Citizenship produce a third item: a new document that expresses current concerns, anxieties of our day, without revising or replacing Faithful Citizenship.

Then Bishop Coyne suggested the conference was not ready to vote: “we’re so divided right now, we’re unclear where we want to go.” He suggested tabling the action item, noting that some, himself included, want an entirely new document on citizenship.

He was supported in that move by Bishop Soto, who said the discussion had given the working group a lot to consider, so that they could return with a “more robust proposal” for the November meeting of the conference.

At this point, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco rose to note the dizzying number of alternative proposals, none of which had been clearly formulated.

A vote on Bishop Coyne’s proposal to table the discussion was held, with two-thirds rejecting his proposal. The discussion continued, focused on developing amendments to the original proposal which might satisfy those bishops with objections.

Cardinal Tobin emphasized that “a number of us are calling for a different source document" to replace Faithful Citizenship, which would inform the content of videos and other new media which the working group would produce.

Bishop Mark O’Connell, a Boston auxiliary, suggested that Faithful Citizenship could be revised, but not replaced, and that the wording of the action item be changed to reflect that.

Bishop McElroy suggested that all reference to Faithful Citizenship be removed from the wording of the proposal.

Bishop McElroy’s suggestion was rejected by the working group.

The working group did, however, concede to changing the language for the pending action item, which was amended to say that the short video and other secondary resources should “complement, rather than replace” Faithful Citizenship (the original had read “complement, rather than revise or replace”). The working group also added a clause saying that newly developed resources should also “apply the teachings of Pope Francis to our day.”

With the revised wording, the proposal came to a vote. The measure passed with well more than a two-thirds majority, though it required only a simple majority. 144 bishops voted in support of the action item, with 41 (just under 22 percent) opposing it.

The discussion was pointed, and took a great deal more time than was anticipated, pushing the public session of the meeting into the afternoon rather than ending before lunch. Faithful Citizenship continues to be the guiding document for civic engagement by Catholics in the US.

Amid repeated reference to “new teachings” of Pope Francis, the unexpected argument demonstrated a deep division among the US bishops.

Archbishop Gomez 'deeply disappointed' that USA Act will not be debated

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 16:00

Los Angeles, Calif., Jun 14, 2018 / 02:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles decried the decision by House leaders to not allow debate on a bipartisan bill that would have opened a legal pathway to permanent residency for “Dreamers.”

“I am deeply disappointed that House leaders have decided not to permit debate on this bill, which represented a common sense, compassionate and bipartisan compromise,” said Archbishop Gomez in a June 13 statement.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an Obama-era policy that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought into the United States as children. The program prevents DACA recipients, also known as “Dreamers,” from being deported. It also provides work permits.

President Donald Trump has sought to end DACA, saying that the initial program was only an executive order that went beyond the scope of presidential powers.

Legislative efforts to include elements of DACA in an immigration law have been unsuccessful. One proposed bill, the “Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act of 2018,” had gained the endorsement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration Committee.

The bipartisan bill would shield “Dreamers” from deportation and would provide for a path to citizenship for certain qualified persons. Additionally, the USA Act of 2018 would increase border security and would seek to address corruption in Central America – a major cause of “irregular migration.”

Even though the bill will not be debated, the archbishop noted that the vote was very close and expressed hope that legislation will be crafted this year. The immigration debate is a major concern in the U.S., he said, challenging lawmakers to find a solution.

A majority of Americans want “to provide the Dreamers with a path to become citizens in our country, while at the same time strengthening the security of our national borders,” Archbishop Gomez said.

“It would be unconscionable to allow another year to pass without finding a compassionate solution for these young people who did nothing wrong and want only to make their own contribution to the American dream.”

The archdiocese has called for a novena beginning June 15 to pray for immigrants, refugees and trafficking victims. Concluding the novena, a Mass in Recognition of All Immigrants will be held June 24 at 3:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, in conjunction with the Dioceses of San Bernardino and Orange.


Tent city for immigrant minors 'a recipe for disaster'

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 04:52

Washington D.C., Jun 14, 2018 / 02:52 am (CNA).- As the Trump administration considers building a tent city for immigrant children separated from their parents, one Catholic group warned that the plan would cause additional trauma to those who are already vulnerable.

“Detaining children in any kind of setting is never a good idea for the children. It leads to all sorts of medical, emotional and developmental repercussions, even when they are detained with their parents,” said Patricia Zapor, communications director for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC).

“Detaining children away from their parents is an even worse idea, and in tents, in the harsh climate of Texas – that’s a recipe for disaster,” Zapor told CNA.

The tent city plan, reported by McClatchyDC, comes amid a recent spike in the number of unaccompanied children at the border, due to the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy which has enforced the separation of migrant children from their parents who have been detained by officials.

With the enforcement of the new policy, the number of unaccompanied minors at the border has grown by 20 percent, and it is estimated that upwards of 10,000 migrant children are currently being held in over 100 various shelters, which are at 95 percent capacity, according to a McClatchyDC report.

Zapor criticized the separation policy and tent city, saying the government would not have “thousands of children in custody for whom they must find shelter if the administration was not unnecessarily separating them from their parents.”

“Many of these families falling under this policy are seeking asylum in the United States, protection from dangers in their own countries. They should be welcomed, allowed to file their asylum claims and given a chance to normalize their lives while their cases proceed,” Zapor said.

“Separating parents from their children and keeping everyone in detention is not necessary, is harmful to both kids and adults and is not who we are as a country,” she continued.

The president of the U.S. bishops conference has also decried the separation policy, calling it “immoral” and saying that families should be allowed to stay together.

The plans for the tent city are still being fleshed out, but the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be scoping out potential properties in Texas for development over the next month.

HHS has reportedly been considering military bases for the tent city and is eyeing the Fort Bliss Army base near El Paso, Texas as one of the prospective locations. Other bases, including Dyess in Abilene, Goodfellow in San Angelo, and Little Rock in Arkansas are also reportedly in the running for the tent city development, which is expected to hold between 1,000-5,000 children.

“As Christians, we are called to care for those in need, including those who seek protection in a new land,” Zapor said.

“It is abhorrent that our government instead chooses to cause additional emotional trauma to vulnerable people.”



Apostolic nuncio encourages US bishops in 'listening'

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 17:12

Miami, Fla., Jun 13, 2018 / 03:12 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaking to the U.S. bishops’ spring meeting on Wednesday, Archbishop Christophe Pierre urged the importance of listening: to youth, to the Hispanic population, and to the Holy Father.

“Spiritual fatherhood and effective evangelization require listening,” the apostolic nuncio to the United States said June 13 at the opening of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s general assembly in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

He said young people “need to be a priority for the Church in the United States” and that “we need to listen attentively to their voices”, which call for a real encounter with Christ, a welcoming community, “authorities who will accompany them and help them discover what truly interests and attracts them”, and an openness to their contributions.

Youths want a “personal, living encounter with Christ,” he said, “rather than a faith reduced to teaching and moralism.”

The archbishop said young people, he believes, desire “not merely Catholic content but holistic formation.”

He emphasized the importance of community in the face of social media and other problems. “Practical efforts to make parishes more welcoming and supportive might create the environment for young people to feel that the Church is where they belong.”

Responding to criticisms of the preparatory document for the youth synod, which was composed with help from young people, as a manifestation of their weak faith or “a wish list of what young people want rather than what they need,” he said it is “an honest expression of the reality of young people, which includes their frustration with institutional bureaucracy and the unwillingness of others to take them seriously.”

Archbishop Pierre suggested that the bishops must “listen and offer our experience and wisdom, attracting them by our fidelity and the witness of our lives … We need to adhere more faithfully to the Tradition, against which they can, through experience and their encounter with us, test the coherence of the Catholic Faith.”

The youth synod will be an opportunity “to examine whether we have done something in our dioceses to facilitate the encounter with Christ,” he said, and evaluating our ability “to attract young people to Christ.” It is also a chance “to be innovative in creating ways for young people to contribute something to the Church.”

The nuncio also said there is a need to listen to the “emerging Hispanic and Latino population” in the US, focusing on the Fifth National Encuentro process.

The Encuentro process has helped to identify leaders within the Hispanic community, as well as pastoral priorities, he said.

It should also be a chance to re-examine strategies for fostering priestly and religious vocations among Hispanic youth, Archbishop Pierre noted.

“How can it be that when the majority of young Catholics in the United States is now Hispanic or Latino, there are so few seminarians, priests and religious of Hispanic descent?”

The nuncio finally emphasized the importance of listening to Pope Francis, in particular his recent apostolic exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, saying holiness is the “lifeblood of the New Evangelization.”

He pointed in particular to the importance of the beatitudes and to the pope’s warnings against Pelagianism and gnosticism.


American Medical Association urged to keep stance against assisted suicide

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 16:27

Washington D.C., Jun 13, 2018 / 02:27 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The American Medical Association voted this week to return to committee a report recommending continued opposition to physician assisted suicide - a move that commentators have called a missed opportunity to stand up for the value of human life.

“For more than two decades the nation’s most prominent and largest association of physicians vocally opposed physician-assisted suicide,” Dr. Peter T. Morrow, M.D., president of the Catholic Medical Association, said June 12. He said the national delegates’ refusal to accept the recommendation was “hugely disappointing and frankly disturbing.”

Morrow said that since the AMA’s founding in 1847, its ethics code has seen physician-assisted suicide as always “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.”

“Our mission at the CMA is to continue to focus on educating our patients on palliative care and hospice and improving access to those much-needed end of life services that include emotional and spiritual support,” he added.

AMA’s House of Delegates, meeting in Chicago June 11, narrowly voted not to accept the report recommending that they continue their stance of opposing physician assisted suicide. About 56 percent of delegates voted for the report to undergo further review. The association has about 240,000 members in the U.S., with membership including medical doctors, doctors of osteopathic medicine, and medical students.

The rejected AMA committee report is the product of two years’ work. It cited concerns that assisted suicide’s use might expand from mentally competent, terminally ill adults to children, people with psychiatric disorders, or people with socioeconomic challenges.

The report backed continued use of the phrase “assisted suicide” rather than in “aid in dying” or “death with dignity.” Justifying this decision, it said “ethical deliberation and debate is best served by using plainly descriptive language.” It added: “despite its negative connotations, the term ‘physician assisted suicide’ describes the practice with the greatest precision.”

Marie T. Hilliard, a nurse who is director of bioethics and public policy at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said her organization would have preferred the committee report be accepted.

“But the good news is the AMA did not change their position,” she said. “They’re going to study their council’s recommendation for another year. It means we continue to work.”

During the AMA’s debate on the assisted suicide report, its backers said a change in position would go against thousands of years of medicine, including the Hippocratic Oath.

“It’s the antithesis of why you want to become a doctor or a healer,” said delegate Dr. Thomas Sullivan, Massachusetts Medical Society president, according to the Chicago Tribune. Sullivan advocated better palliative and hospice care and better psychological support rather than assisted suicide.

Some delegates said they thought it was important to support members who aid in assisted suicide where it is legal.

Dr. Theodore Mazer, president of the California Medical Association, objected that the guidance puts these physicians “at risk of being in conflict with the (AMA’s) code of medical ethics.”

Physician-assisted suicide is legal by law in the District of Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Vermont, and Colorado; and in Montana through a state supreme court ruling. It will become legal in Hawaii next year. A bill to legalize assisted suicide is under consideration in Indiana.

Matt Valliere, executive director of the Patients’ Rights Action Fund, said the AMA vote is “a lost opportunity and a failure to stand against a policy that has grave consequences for everyone, but especially persons living with illness, disabilities, or socio-economic disadvantage.”

“Assisted suicide is not medical care,” Valliere said June 12. He said the vote decision “does not take into account that this bad public policy puts vulnerable patients at high risk for coercion, mistakes and even abuse.”

The AMA’s current guidance describes physician-assisted suicide as “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.” It would be “difficult or impossible to control” and would pose “serious societal risks.”

While it is “understandable, though tragic” that some patients in extreme duress from their suffering may decide that death is preferable to life, “permitting physicians to engage in assisted suicide would ultimately cause more harm than good.”

The guidance says physicians should not abandon a patient once a cure is determined impossible. They must respect patient autonomy, provide good communication and emotional support, and must provide appropriate comfort care and pain control.

Speaking to CNA, Valliere said there could be many reasons why certain delegates didn’t vote to affirm the report.

Like-minded physicians who oppose assisted suicide should join the AMA and become active in their state delegations and work to become delegates, he added.

“They can and should also be discussing with their colleagues the very real dangers that assisted suicide public policy and practice pose,” he said. Many voting delegates come from other areas of medicine with limited involvement with death and dying.

Organizations like the 140,000-member American College of Physicians, the second-largest national physicians’ organization, recently reaffirmed their opposition to assisted suicide.

The decision comes amid a significant increase in suicide in the U.S. On June 7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the suicide rate has risen steadily in almost every U.S. state, and 25 percent nationwide, in the period from 1999 to 2016. Nearly 40,000 Americans died by suicide in 2016, twice the number of homicides that year.

Valliere reflected on the tension behind opposing some suicides and advocating suicide for others.

“When some people get suicide prevention, and others get suicide help based on health or disability status, that’s a clear problem of unequal protection under the law,” he said.

He warned that assisted suicide could undo decades of efforts by disability activists. Many in the disability community, for instance, live “full professional lives,” have children, and are active members of their communities.

“And yet, if they didn’t have a ventilator, they’d be dead,” he said.

The legal definition of “terminal illness” is different than the clinical definition. Some laws such as Oregon’s consider diabetes a qualifying terminal illness for assisted suicide.

“So if someone like my father, who has diabetes and has been on insulin for half his life, could be having a bad year, fall into deep acute depression, and go off his insulin, they would declare him terminal according to assisted suicide public policy. He would qualify for the law,” warned Valliere.


Cardinal DiNardo: New US asylum policy erodes the right to life

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 09:36

Miami, Fla., Jun 13, 2018 / 07:36 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At the opening of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ general assembly on Wednesday, the conference president issued a statement condemning the Trump administration’s adoption of stricter asylum policies and its policy of family separation at the US-Mexico border.

“At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life,” read the June 13 statement from Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston. The bishops gathered at the spring plenary meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, 30 miles north of Miami, indicated their widespread assent to the statement.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a 31-page ruling June 11 indicating that domestic violence and gang violence are no longer grounds for seeking asylum in the US. He said that domestic abuse and gang violence claims alone should not be considered grounds for an asylum claim, unless there is also evidence of persecution by government actors based on one’s social group.

The BBC reports that around 10,000 people annually receive asylum in the US due to domestic abuse or gang violence in their home countries

Session’s decision “elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection,” Cardinal DiNardo stated.

“These vulnerable women will now face return to the extreme dangers of domestic violence in their home country. This decision negates decades of precedents that have provided protection to women.”

Cardinal DiNardo stated that “unless overturned, the decision will erode the capacity of asylum to save lives, particularly in cases that involve asylum seekers who are persecuted by private actors.”

The US bishops urged both courts and policy makers “to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to life.”

The cardinal’s statement also discussed the Trump administration’s policy of separating minors from their parents who enter the US illegally as part of its zero tolerance policy.

“Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma.”

Because families are “the foundational element of our society,” they “must be able to stay together,” he reflected.

“While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety,” Cardinal DiNardo said.

“Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

As Miss America cancels swimsuit contest, more Americans approve of porn

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 05:09

Atlantic City, New Jersey, Jun 13, 2018 / 03:09 am (CNA).- While the nation’s largest beauty pageant is proudly covering up in the name of women’s empowerment, Americans increasingly believe pornography to be morally acceptable - a trend that one commenter finds to be incoherent.

“On one hand, it seems like the media wants to say ‘yes, you shouldn’t treat people just according to their bodies’, and on the other hand, they seem to be saying ‘it’s actually a very liberating thing if you want it to be a liberating thing’,” said Matt Fradd, a Catholic apologist, speaker and author whose work focuses largely on the consequences of pornography.

A Gallup poll released on June 5 found that 43 percent of Americans find pornography to be “morally acceptable.” This is a 7 percent increase in the past year - more than the cumulative increase over the previous seven years combined.

The poll was published on the same day that Miss America Organization Board of Trustees announced its termination of the swimsuit competition portion of the pageant. Instead of the swimsuit competition, women will have the opportunity to verbally highlight their strengths and passions in conversation with judges.

A press release from Miss America said that candidates “will no longer be judged on outward physical appearance.”

Chair of the Miss America Board of Trustees Gretchen Carlson was quoted in the press release as saying, “We’re experiencing a cultural revolution in our country with women finding the courage to stand up and have their voices heard on many issues. Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement.”

Fradd noted the irony in a culture that decries the objectification of women in some contexts while accepting the same objectification when it occurs in pornography. He suggested that this demonstrates contradictions within the cultural mindset.

“So, at one minute, we are being told that if a woman wishes to undress and engage in pornography or pornography-like actions, that this is somehow liberating,” he told CNA. “But on the other hand, we seem to be championing this… Miss America contest and saying that this is a real victory for women, that we’re not just judging them on their bodies.”

Participation in Miss America swimsuit competitions was a voluntary action, he noted, yet contestants presumably did not find it liberating - hence its removal from the program.

The “cultural revolution” that Carlson referenced - the recent #MeToo movement criticizing the sexual harassment and objectification of women - “has done some good things, but it hasn’t gone nearly far enough,” said Fradd. It doesn’t “address why pornography and consuming it degrades the human person and is therefore always inappropriate.”

Church teaching aside, he said, decades of scientific research have proven pornography to be physically, mentally and emotionally detrimental.

“Right now, there are 38 neuroscience-based studies on porn uses,” said Fradd. “Every single one of them supports the addiction model. And that leads to all sorts of complications, like erectile dysfunction in men, sexual dysfunction in women. It leads to depression, nervousness, irritability, marital breakdowns--the list goes on.”

However, Fradd also supports the Church’s reasoning against pornography.

“I would say we should trust the Catholic Church when it comes to human dignity and morality for the same reason we should trust a nutritionist when it comes to what food is good for us,” he said.

“The reason is the nutritionist knows the material of the human body, like, the material cause. Certain foods are good for us or bad for us because it’s who we are and what we’re made of, and I think, analogously, the Church knows who we are and why we are, and therefore, it knows what acts are at odds with our human dignity, or which lead to our flourishing.”


Immigration ruling 'closes the door' to victims of abuse, gang violence

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 02:04

Washington D.C., Jun 13, 2018 / 12:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A ruling by the U.S. attorney general that victims of domestic abuse and gang violence may no longer qualify for asylum could “close the door” on the most vulnerable, warned a refugee official with the U.S. bishops’ conference.

On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a 31-page ruling which overturned a 2016 decision granting asylum to a woman who had been “emotionally, physically and sexually” abused by her husband in El Salvador. For the sake of anonymity, the woman is known as Ms. A-B in court papers. 

Sessions said that domestic abuse and gang violence claims alone should not be considered grounds for an asylum claim, unless there is also evidence of persecution by government actors based on one’s social group.

The decision “strips life-saving protection from Ms. A-B herself, and also potentially many other women who lack adequate protection and will now face return to the extreme dangers of domestic violence in their home country,” said Ashley Feasley, the director of policy at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migrant and Refugee Services.

“Similarly, this decision could close the door on those fleeing gang violence in their home country from escaping persecution,” Feasley told CNA, adding “this action also overrides extensive prior legal precedent.”

Currently, individuals can seek asylum in the U.S. if they fear persecution in their home country on the basis of race, political opinion, nationality, religion or social group. The U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals found that Ms. A-B qualified for asylum under the “social group” definition, but Sessions overturned the ruling, saying it was “inherently ambiguous,” according to the BBC.

“Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems – even all serious problems – that people face every day all over the world,” said Sessions on June 11, according to NPR.

“The asylum statute does not provide redress for all misfortune,” Sessions continued, who stressed the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy.

The case of Ms. A-B was sent back to an immigration judge to order her deportation, although her lawyers said they have plans to challenge Sessions’ decision in federal court.

The BBC reports that around 10,000 people annually receive asylum in the U.S. due to domestic abuse or gang violence in their home countries, and the New York Times reports that credible fear claims reported at the border have skyrocketed 1,700 percent from 2008-2016. Sessions’ ruling could mean that many of these asylum cases will be blocked moving forward.

Many groups voiced their concern over the attorney general’s decision, saying it will only harm the already vulnerable.

“Turning our backs on victims of violence and deporting them to grave danger should not be the legacy sought by any administration,” said Beth Werlin of the American Immigration Council, saying the decision will “no doubt result in sending countless mothers and children back to their abusers and criminal gangs.”

The ruling is most strongly affect asylum seekers from Latin American countries, where gang violence has been rampant in recent years. The U.N. has said these countries have some of the worst rates of violence against women in the world.

Thousands of asylum seekers are waiting for legal entry into the U.S. and have camped near border crossings, although authorities have told them to continue waiting in Mexico before applying for asylum.

An immigration spokesman said the entry delays are expected to be “temporary,” according to the New York Times, but many of the asylum-seekers are running out of resources as they wait in limbo at the U.S-Mexican border, according to reports.


Most Americans think abortion is morally wrong

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 18:41

Washington D.C., Jun 12, 2018 / 04:41 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Americans who think abortion is morally wrong outweigh those who see it as morally acceptable, said a new Gallup poll, released Monday.

This result is consistent with Gallup’s findings since it first started surveying Americans about the issue in 2001.

In this year’s poll, 48 percent of respondents believe abortion to be wrong, and 43 percent say it is acceptable.

Abortion, said the poll report, is one of a small handful of issues “about which Americans' views have not become more liberal over the past two decades.”

Asked whether they identify as “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” respondents were evenly split, with 48 percent siding with each label. Over the last three years, “pro-choice” respondents outnumbered “pro-life” respondents by an average of about three percentage points.

Most Americans favor at least some restrictions on abortion, the poll found. Fifty percent said abortion should be legal “only under certain circumstances,” while 29 percent said it should be legal in all circumstances, and 18 percent said it should be illegal in all cases.

“In a follow-up question asked of those [50 percent] in the middle ‘legal under certain circumstances’ group, most of these respondents say it should be legal ‘only in a few’ rather than in ‘most’ circumstances.”

The poll on abortion was part of the Gallup’s Values and Beliefs survey, which is conducted yearly. The poll was based on telephone interviews of 1,024 adults ages 18 and up, conducted in early May. The margin of sampling error is 4 percentage points.


Korean bishops call for prayer amid ‘joy’ after Trump-Kim North Korea summit

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 17:58

Washington D.C., Jun 12, 2018 / 03:58 pm (CNA).- At a highly-anticipated summit on June 12, President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un signed a joint-statement making commitments “to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.”

The meeting on Singapore’s Sentosa Island was the first time that an American president met with a North Korean leader.

South Korean Archbishop Kim Hee-Jung of Gwangju called the outcome of the summit “a surprise and a joy,” in a June 12 statement.

Peaceful negotiation is an ongoing process, the archbishop said, quoting the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, Gaudium et spes:

“Peace is never attained once and for all, but must be built up ceaselessly.”

The South Korean bishops have called for Catholics to pray a novena for North Korea from June 17 - 25 with specific prayer intentions for each day. This includes prayers for the North Korean people, separated families, North Korean refugees, evangelization of the North, and the peaceful reunification of the peninsula.

Trump faced several questions in the press conference following the summit about whether he had addressed North Korea’s human rights abuses in his private discussion with Kim Jong Un. The question of whether to prioritize peace negotiations, security, or human rights concerns has been a frequent point of contention among North Korea experts.

Trump replied that human rights were “discussed relatively briefly compared to denuclearization.” However, he also said that North Korea’s abduction of Japanese citizens, and the regime’s persecution of Christians were brought up in his conversation with Kim. The roughly 45 minute conversation was unrecorded and through an interpreter.

“Christians, yes. We … brought it up very strongly.  You know, Franklin Graham spent and spends a tremendous amount of time in North Korea.  He’s got it very close to his heart.  It did come up, and things will be happening,” said Trump. Franklin Graham is the son of the late American evangelist Billy Graham and the CEO of the Samaritan’s Purse organization.

After a one-on-one meeting with Kim Jong Un, Trump participated in an expanded bilateral meeting, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and National Security Advisor John Bolton. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, Ambassador Sung Kim, and National Security Council Senior Director for Asia Matt Pottinger joined after for a working lunch.

The outcome of these meetings was a joint-statement signed by both leaders with four specific parts to the agreement.

First, both the U.S. and North Korea agreed to “establish new U.S.-DPRK relations.”

Trump said that he sees himself meeting with Kim again in the future, and told the press, “I also will be inviting Chairman Kim, at the appropriate time, to the White House.”

Second, “the United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.”

In part, this seems to include the end of U.S. military exercises with North Korea, which Trump called “war games.” It does not mean a reduction in military capabilities, he clarified.

Third, Kim Jung Un committed to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a reaffirmation of the Panmunjom Declaration, the statement he signed with South Korean President Moon Jae-In on April 27.

As with the Panmunjom Declaration, many scholars critiqued this June 12 joint-statement for lacking concrete details and a timeline to ensure the complete implementation and verification of denuclearization.

Lastly, the two leaders committed to “recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.”

This relatively unexpected outcome came as the result of  “countless calls and letters and tweets” the president said he received from Americans that wanted “the remains of their sons back.” To his suggestion that the remains be repatriated, Trump said that Kim Jung Un replied, “It makes sense.  We will do it.”

The American president seemed confident that the North Korean leader will keep his promises.

“We signed a very, very comprehensive document, and I believe he’s going to live up to that document,” said Trump.

Trump also said that Kim had a “great personality and very smart -- good combination.”
Trump attempted to help Kim envision a brighter economic future for North Korea through a short video, which he said he showed the North Korean leader on an iPad toward the end of their meeting.

“The past doesn’t have to be the future. Out of the darkness can come the light, and the light of hope can burn bright,” said a voice in the video over images of the planet, prosperous urban cities, and photos of Trump and Kim.

Trump also claims to have attempted to persuade Kim to see his situation “from a real estate perspective.”

North Korea has “great beaches” said Trump, who continued “You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean, right?  I said, ‘Boy, look at the view.  Wouldn’t that make a great condo behind?’  And I explained, I said, ‘You know, instead of doing that, you could have the best hotels in the world right there.’”

President Trump said that he already has plans to meet next week with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and his “entire team” to begin implementing the negotiated terms.

“The biggest challenge will be developing a robust verification and inspection regime — an endeavor that will test the resilience of the fledgling U.S.-North Korea working partnership,” said John Park, the director of Harvard’s Korea Working Group, in a statement released by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

“A key obstacle ahead will be some actors’ use of the “Sentosa Statement” as a justification to further ease implementation of sanctions without linkage to denuclearization actions to maximize narrow national interests,” Park continued.

In the press conference, Trump said that he would not consider removing the current sanctions on North Korea until “we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor” and there is “significant improvement” in the human rights situation.

“You can imagine how anxiously the Korean people and the church here in Korea are experiencing this truly historic moment,” Archbishop Alfred Xuereb, apostolic nuncio to South Korea and Mongolia, told Vatican News June 12.

“It marks the beginning of a still long and arduous journey, but we are hopeful because the start has been very positive, very good,” he said.

South Korea’s novena will end June 25, South Korea’s memorial day, and an annual day of prayer in South Korea for reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The day will likely be celebrated with particular urgency this year.  

“Since 1965, the Korean Catholic Church has been praying for the true peace of the two Koreas and the reconciliation of the nation on June 25 every year,” wrote Archbishop Kim following April's Inter-Korean summit.

In recent months, the country’s bishops have also called for daily rosaries for peace each day at 9pm in South Korea, which are expected to continue after today’s meeting.



Rally supporting Masterpiece Cakeshop draws hundreds

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 14:39

Denver, Colo., Jun 12, 2018 / 12:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Hundreds of people attended at a rally outside Masterpiece Cakeshop last week, showing support for a U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the religious freedom of the shop’s owner.

“This is a really good, solid ruling. They overturned everything the Civil Rights Commission accused us of, and it’s a good ruling for religious liberty,” shop owner Jack Phillips told CNA.

A devout Christian, Phillips declined to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding in 2012. He said that while he is happy to serve gay customers, he cannot support gay marriage, due to his faith. Phillips has also declined to create cakes for other themes he finds objectionable – including bachelor parties, divorce celebrations, and Halloween.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ordered Phillips to change his company policies and undergo anti-discrimination training.

On June 4, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Phillips. The court determined that the Civil Rights Commission had shown “elements of a clear and impermissible hostility” toward Phillips’ religious beliefs.

A line of people wrapped around the block of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Littleton, Colorado on June 8 to show their support for Phillips. They purchased cookies and cakes, and a rally was held in parking lot, where a few speakers gave a short address.

“I serve all who walk through my doors, people from all walks of life. I’ve spent many years honing my craft as a cake artist, combining baking with my love of sculpting, painting, and sketching. And I love my work because a cake is a canvas on which I express ideas, celebrate events, and bring joy to people’s lives,” said Phillips at the rally.

“The Court’s decision makes clear that tolerance is a two-way street. If we want to have freedom for ourselves, we have to extend it to others with whom we disagree about important issues like the meaning of marriage.”

Carrying signs bearing slogans such as “Stand up for religious freedom” and “Love free speech,” supporters drove from all over the state to show their support for religious liberty. A small group of counter protesters also showed up on Friday, but both parties were respectful.

One supporter, Wendy Smith, told CNA that she and her husband drove up from Colorado Springs for the rally, because they were “very thankful for Jack and we do want to stand behind him because he has been an example for all of us.”

She also expressed hope for more opportunities to “sit down and talk to [the opposition] and find common ground, and just be respectful, even in the midst of disagreeing.”

Justin Wright of Loveland, Colo., said he came to endorse the court’s decision as well.

“I pretty much came to support him because, as a gay person, I feel like for a large portion of us the left speaks for us, which isn’t the truth. Honestly, religious freedom is just as important to everybody in this country...Just because [the gay community has] rights doesn’t mean they trump [Phillips’] rights at the end of the day.”

Phillips said he has received an outpouring of positive support since the case began. People have sent encouraging emails and have stopped by the shop offering their prayers.

However, Phillips and his family have also received threats and cruel messages throughout the judicial process, he said, noting there was a time when his wife had been nervous about coming to the shop.

“We started getting hate mail, emails that were really vicious and vulgar, and phone calls, death threats,” he said. “We are still getting phone calls and emails that are blatantly violent and they are awful, but then you can look around and you can see that we have received a lot of support.”

Despite the negative response, Phillips stressed that the two men whose inquiry about the cake had led to the court case would be welcome in his shop any day.

“I serve everybody who comes into my shop… but we don’t create every cake for every message people ask me for,” he said.

When asked further about this distinction, Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Phillips, said it is a question of the cake’s message rather than the customer.

“It’s the difference of the what vs the who. For Jack, it is only the what that matters - what are you asking me to create? I think our society will benefit if we accept that distinction.”

Tedesco noted that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had told other bakeries that they have the right to refuse to craft a cake with an anti-gay marriage message. These same rights should be extended to Phillips, he said.

“We just have to extend that same tolerance and respect to people like Jack,” he said. “I think the most important thing is this decision underscores the need for tolerance and respect, and the fact that people who believe – like Jack does – that marriage is between a man and a woman are good and decent and honorable people who belong in our society.”

Tedesco voiced hope that this ruling will lead to a positive outcome in other similar cases and restore a sense of respectful dialogue in the public sphere.

He noted that the Supreme Court, in its ruling, emphasized “that we need to extend tolerance and respect to people who disagree with us, especially those we disagree with most vehemently.”

“It is just an essential aspect to what makes our society great, and I don’t want to see us lose it,” he said.


What to expect when the USCCB heads to a Florida beach this week

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 21:00

Denver, Colo., Jun 11, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- The bishops of the United States will meet in Fort Lauderdale, Fla, this week, less than one mile from A1A-Beachfront Avenue, the Florida road made famous by a 1974 Jimmy Buffett album, and the peerless 1990 Vanilla Ice single “Ice, Ice Baby.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops conducts two meeting annually- the fall meeting is held in Baltimore, while the spring meeting rotates through conference centers and hotels across the country.

The spring meeting’s agenda is typically light; in fact the meeting is replaced by a retreat every three years.

There are exceptions to the light spring load - last year’s meeting, for example, featured a fiercely-debated vote on the bishops’ religious liberty advocacy. Most famously, the spring meeting of 2002 served as the launching-point for the US bishops’ response to the Church’s burgeoning sexual abuse crisis.

While most of the expected agenda in Fort Lauderdale is a mix of updates, housekeeping items, or votes unlikely to be contentious, two items up for discussion are worth your careful attention.

First, the housekeeping and updates: the bishops will discuss a forthcoming document regarding the pastoral care of Pacific Islander and Asian Catholics, along with the progress of the V National Encuentro, a process of parish, diocesan, and regional meetings for Hispanic Catholics, which will culminate in September with a national meeting held in Texas, and the upcoming Vatican synod on young people, faith, and vocational discernment. The bishops will also vote on new translations of certain sections of the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayer book prayed daily by priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters.

According to several sources, the bishops will vote on the publication of short letters, prayers and videos to accompany Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship- the bishops’ 2007 guide to voting and political life.

Faithful Citizenship has been the subject of criticism in recent years, and some have called for a significant reworking of the text, even though it was last revised only three years ago, in 2015. New revisions would likely involve a working group of bishops and USCCB staff members, consultation with experts from academia and political life, and a process of nearly two years. More important, further revisions would likely require the bishops to engage directly in serious debate about political subjects on which they are divided.

The contentious 2016 debate over the bishops’ religious liberty committee pointed to sharp disagreement over the political issues the USCCB has prioritized, and over an approach to political engagement that some see as excessively partisan. Revising Faithful Citizenship would open a direct, public debate about those issues, which could end in gridlock. Sources close to the USCCB have told CNA that many bishops hope to avoid that debate.

It seems more likely the bishops will approve the publication of short statements and videos on political life, using Faithful Citizenship as a kind-of base text from which to work, at least for the foreseeable future.
There are two issues likely to spark some debate in Fort Lauderdale- new installments in long-standing discussions about sexual abuse and Catholic healthcare. The USCCB has announced that the bishops will debate proposed revisions to two documents: the Charter for the Protection of Children andYoung People, the Church’s guiding document on sexual abuse, and the Ethical and Religious Directives, which govern Catholic hospitals and healthcare providers.

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, first issued in 2002, was revised in 2005 and again in 2011. A new revision process began in 2013. Over the past five years, bishops, consultants, the independent National Review Board, and other interested parties have offered suggestions for the document. Though major edits are not expected, debate over the revised text will be the first time the bishops publicly discuss clerical sexual abuse since controversy erupted over Pope Francis’ handling of a sexual abuse crisis in Chile, and since the #MeToo movement burst into international consciousness.

It should be mentioned that the USCCB’s 2017 report on Charter compliance notes that allegations of clerical sexual abuse “decreased significantly” last year, and that the National Review Board said that “the commitment and efforts of the bishops stands out as a model to be emulated by other institutions” working to address the problem of sexual abuse.

Still, some bishops have told CNA they’re concerned about “audit creep”- a name some use to describe the concern that annual Charter compliance audits have become increasingly invasive in recent years, attempting to expand the scope of audits beyond their original purpose. Others have asked whether the document calls for enough screening and formation of seminarians and diaconal candidates before they are ordained, especially with regard to chaste sexuality.

Discussion about the document, if it raises those issues, could be interesting. Child protection is not an issue of ideological division among the bishops- but each of them has the experience of meeting with victims, overseeing background checks and prevention training, engaging with priests accused of malfeasance, and working with the independent compliance auditors who evaluate diocesan practices. Their perspectives about what’s working- and what’s not- will certainly be worth watching.

On the healthcare front, the bishops are expected to debate revisions to the Ethical and Religious Directives that pertain to institutional collaboration between Catholic and non-Catholic hospitals. One-in-six acute care hospital beds in the United States is in a Catholic hospital. Catholic healthcare systems, through mergers, have become among the largest healthcare providers in the nation, and though they're overseen by a Vatican congregation and local bishops, they straddle the fence between more typical Catholic apostolates and billion-dollar corporations.

Catholic healthcare is big business in the United States, and overseeing hospitals can be a challenge for bishops, who usually have less money and personnel than the hospitals in their dioceses. Some critics have said that understanding Catholic healthcare systems in the United States, and trying to govern them, has been an even bigger challenge for the Vatican.

As Catholic hospital systems merge with, or acquire, non-Catholic hospitals, ethical questions have become increasingly complicated. New sections of the Ethical and Religious Directives are expected to address those collaborative relationships.

Sources close to the process have told CNA that the document’s revisions aim to clarify the role of bishops and the Vatican in evaluating healthcare partnerships, and to clarify the limitations on partnering with institutions that perform abortions, sterilizations, gender reassignment surgery, etc. At issue will be whether those clarifications offer enough to gain support from bishops concerned about the influence of the “contraceptive mentality” and “gender ideology” in Catholic healthcare, and from those who want to ensure that bishops are empowered to exercise real oversight of the hospitals in their territory.

The past few months have seen the US bishops addressing controversies at the Vatican, vigorous advocacy on immigration and religious liberty issues, and a tenuous and unpredictable relationship with the Trump Administration. Their meeting in Fort Lauderdale will not be without some excitement, but the agenda might also provide them a chance to breathe, take in the sun, and visit the famous- or, if Vanilla Ice is to be believed, infamous- Beachfront Avenue.

Cardinal Dolan: Let's not capitulate to the abortion culture

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 17:23

New York City, N.Y., Jun 11, 2018 / 03:23 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Responding to Fr. Thomas J. Reese's recent suggestion that the pro-life movement abandon efforts to make abortion illegal and focus instead on reducing the number of abortions, Cardinal Timothy Dolan voiced grave concern with the proposal.

“As chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities, I want to indicate my serious reservations about Reese’s strategy, considering it a capitulation to the abortion culture, and a grave weakening of the powerful pro-life witness,” the Archbishop of New York wrote in a June 8 opinion piece at RNS.

“Catholic tradition and basic human rights teach us that every human being has an inalienable right to life that must be recognized and protected in law. While the law is not the only means of protecting life, it plays a key and decisive role in affecting both human behavior and thinking. We cannot give up!” Dolan continued.

RNS had published an opinion piece by Reese May 27 asserting that the recent vote for the legalization of abortion in Ireland was a sign the pro-life movement “needs a new strategy.”

Noting that most pro-choice laws are victorious when taken to the ballots, Reese believes the pro-life movement should stop fighting the “impossible goal” of criminalizing abortion and shift their efforts to a reduction in the number of abortions and supporting “programs that give women a real choice.”

“In short, the pro-life movement must support any program that lessens the burden on mothers and their children,” said Reese.

Reese, a Jesuit priest, also highlighted the role of the Church in his proposed strategy, saying it should treat an unwed pregnant woman as a “hero, not a whore,” while schools should design programs and affordable housing to meet the needs of mothers and their children.

He stated that the pro-life movement “has to support birth control as a means of avoiding unwanted pregnancies.”

“Planned pregnancies do not get aborted; many unplanned pregnancies do,” he asserted.

“Those who consider artificial contraception to be wrong must also recognize that abortion is a greater evil. When forced to choose, one must choose the lesser of two evils.”

Cardinal Dolan wrote that this is “one of Reese's most troubling assertions.”

“In addition to rejecting the church’s teaching that contraception is itself morally flawed, and the fact that it can be medically harmful to women, his reasoning is questionable,” Dolan pointed outed. In fact, only a good is a licit object of the will; an evil, however lesser, can never be chosen.

Dolan noted that contraception cannot be effectively chosen as a way to avoid choosing abortion: “In reality, more than half of women seeking abortion were actually using contraception during the month they became pregnant, and studies have shown that once contraception is more widely available, abortion rates may actually rise!”

Reese also wrote that “closing [Planned Parenthood] clinics that provide health care and birth control to women before replacements are up and running is irresponsible and counterproductive.”

“Working together, we could reasonably get abortions down to under 100,000 per year [in the U.S.] – far too many, but an achievable goal and better than where we are today,” Reese said.

While Dolan noted support for some of Reese’s suggestions, such as offering much-needed support to pregnant mothers, the New York cardinal said Reese’s strategy ultimately reminds him of “those in the mid-19th century who proposed amelioration as a way to reduce slavery in our country.”

“Thank God, those who believed that slavery was a moral horror, a cancer on our country, and contrary to the higher values of a lawful republic, could never accept this capitulation.”

Reese's assertion that the pro-life movement should give up efforts to give legal protection to unborn humans and instead work only to reduce the number of abortions “is an unnecessary dichotomy,” Cardinal Dolan wrote.  

Reese pointed to some polls which indicated decreased support for restricting abortion laws, but Dolan highlighted other research which noted an increase of Americans wanting more limits on abortion, adding moreover that polls should not control which issues to fight for.

“Reese would be rightly disappointed, as would I, if pro-immigration reformers were to give up because polls discourage them,” Dolan said.

While the end to abortion may seem an impossible goal, Dolan said that through God, all things are possible.

“Abortion is a grave injustice. We must do everything in our power to legally protect babies and to provide for the needs of mothers,” the New York cardinal said.

“May we never give in to the culture of death or lose faith in our efforts to build a culture of life in our world.”

New Baltimore policy permits outdoor Catholic weddings

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 15:07

Baltimore, Md., Jun 11, 2018 / 01:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of Baltimore has announced a policy to allow weddings to be held outside of parish churches, including at outdoor venues.

“The archbishop has been emphatic about reaching out to young people,” Diane Barr, chancellor of the Baltimore archdiocese, told the Catholic Review in an article published June 6. “There is more openness to considering other options.”

The revised policy was promulgated Feb. 14, and is the fruit of conversations with people who want to be married in the Church, but also want to have the wedding at a location special to them.

Since the policy was promulgated, more than 20 requests have been made under its provisions; all have been approved.

The policy states that weddings “ordinarily shall take place in a parish church … While always encouraging the faithful to celebrate their wedding in a place of worship, another venue may be deemed a suitable place by the Archbishop or his delegate.”

The preference is that weddings occur in the parish church of the bride or groom, though they may take place in another parish or a school, university, hospital, or other Catholic chapel.

In addition, the new policy allows for wedding to take place at indoor or outdoor wedding venues which are not Catholic chapels.

School chapels are among the most common requests, the Catholic Review reported.

The request for a wedding outside a parish church is to be made by the preparing cleric to the chancellor's office at least six months in advance of the wedding date.

Non-Catholic wedding venues “should be reasonable and in keeping with a religious celebration. The place of the ceremony should establish a prayerful, sacred feeling for the couple and their guests,” the norms state.

A list giving examples of places unsuitable for weddings mentions boats, and places where alcohol is served as a matter of course, including casinos, bars, and nightclubs.

To be permitted, outdoor venues must also have an indoor venue available in case of inclement weather.

The application for a wedding outside the parish church directs that common sense be applied, providing the guidelines that the venue should be in keeping with the sacredness of the character of Catholic marriage; it should be a physically meaningful place for the couple and provide the couple and their guests with the feeling of sacredness for the occasion; and it may not be a bar, restaurant, boat, or on the water. If the location is not a public venue, the application asks that photos be provided which fully describe the venue.

The application requires that canonical reasons be given for requesting the permission, which might include the spiritual good of the couple; the probability of conversion of a non-Catholic; the validation of a previously invalid marriage, among others. It also asks the cleric to describe the reasons the couple is seeking the permission.

The chancellor will review the petition and reply within 30 days. If the request is declined, the reasons for refusal will be included in the letter, and the decision of the archbishop is final.

“People take getting married very seriously,” Barr reflected. She told the Catholic Review that wanting to get married “in their grandmother’s field, behind the family home” is an important reason.

The norms note that “In a ceremony outside the parish or approved Catholic chapel location, a Liturgy of the Word ceremony with Exchange of Consent and blessings is permitted,” and that “all liturgical norms for weddings continue to apply.”

This norm also permits a priest to celebrate a wedding Mass at a location outside a parish or Catholic chapel; but “given the varied venues the policy did not want to oblige that a Mass be celebrated,” Sean Caine, vice-chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, told CNA.

The Baltimore archdiocese noted that requests for venues outside the archdiocese would require the permission of the local bishop and cannot be guaranteed, though the chancery “will work with other dioceses to try to secure the requisite permissions.”

The Catholic Review suggested that popular venues outside the Archdiocese of Baltimore could include the Eastern Shore or Chesapeake Bay, much of which is in the Diocese of Wilmington.

Caine said that there have been requests for venues outside the Baltimore archdiocese, and that nearby dioceses have indicated a willingness to accommodate these requests, “on a case by case basis as long as it involved a cleric from the Archdiocese of Baltimore.”

The permission to use other locations is a one-year experiment. It will be reviewed after a year, and the archdiocese is “keeping detailed records to be able to determine the efficacy of the process as well as its impact on our community,” Caine indicated.

While their processes are distinct, the Diocese of Helena and the Diocese of Harrisburg both have similar policies for permitting weddings outside of parishes.


This man spent a week on the street with his homeless son

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 14:36

Denver, Colo., Jun 11, 2018 / 12:36 pm (CNA).- As the parents of a homeless son struggling with a drug addiction, Frank and his wife Deloris have done everything they could think of to get their grown son into rehab. But it didn’t work.

So Frank took it a step further – he spent a week on the streets with his son, Tommy.  

“You hear for years that with addictions there are three roads: rehab, jail, and death,” said Frank. “The jails won’t keep him. He doesn’t want to help himself. That doesn’t leave many roads…So what do I do?”

“I decided I’m just going to be with him and love him. I’m not going to try and talk him into rehab. I don’t even want to say that word. I’ve decided. I’m going to go be with my son.”

Frank recounted his story in an essay that was read by Jerry Herships, a pastor for the homeless ministry AfterHours, June 5 at Denver’s Civic Center Park. The park is a major setting for the story, and a hub for the city’s homeless population.  

Tommy, 28, struggles with bipolar disorder, is addicted to heroin, and has frequently been in and out of jail. Frank requested their family’s last name not be used, but he wanted to share his encounter with homelessness and human dignity.

The story begins when Frank is tending to his garden in San Diego, California, when he gets the idea to spend time with his son, no matter the circumstances.

“One day, I’m outside doing yard work…I go inside, and I tell Deloris I have an idea. I’m going to Denver… and be homeless. She looks at me like I’m nuts. Maybe I am. But I love my son and to be honest, I think his days are numbered.”

Frank flew to Denver with only a 50-pound backpack, which included a water bottle, small tent, first-aid kit, flashlight, 4X6 sheet of plastic, and some clothes. Arriving to Denver late, he slept in the airport and took a train downtown early the next morning.

When he arrived at Civic Center Park, Frank inquired about Tommy and was directed by the some of his son’s acquaintances toward the needle exchange. Already high, his son was waiting in line to receive clean needles to shoot up drugs, but his father embraced him anyway.

“I can see he can't stand up without the support of the building. He would appear drunk to most people… I know from past experiences, sadly, he is on heroin,” said Frank.

“I get up to him and he starts to turn his back on me. I don't even care, I just grab him and squeeze him as hard as I can. I'm telling him over and over how much I love him. I tell him how much his family loves him.”

In the essay, Frank gives details about the processes of finding campsites and food, interactions with other people who are homeless, and the struggles with Tommy’s drug addiction.

The experience was extremely difficult, Frank said, recalling times when watching his son’s pain and crippling addiction brought him to tears. He could the see dominating force of addiction – the constant use of people and the single-minded focus on the drug.

Because of a previous charge for bike theft, Tommy had to appear in court that week, pass a drug test, and provide evidence of attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings, or he would automatically get 30 days in jail.

But before the court case, he went into a grocery store, where he spent so long that Frank stated: “I'm sure it was to shoot up and fill his rear end with drugs. If they send him to jail he can be high and have a backup supply in jail. That’s what they do. This is all so sick. Most people couldn't even imagine this world. I lived it. It is real.”

In the end, Tommy was able to make a deal with the District Attorney’s office, delaying the court appearance and drug test for an additional week.

Frustrated and exhausted by the end of the trip, Frank complained about his son’s lack of appreciation and rude behavior. However, his wife reminded him that the mental illness and drug addictions were influencing Tommy’s behavior.

Frank’s week-long visit with his son did not solve the problems of Tommy’s addiction or homelessness. But it gave Frank a chance to connect with his son in his suffering and to express his love.

“This experience has changed me for life,” wrote Frank, noting the insight he has gained into the public’s reaction to homelessness and the hold of addictions.

While taking public transportation or waiting in line to make a purchase, he said he was treated like a second-class citizen, both ignored and harassed because he appeared to be homeless.

“What would God say? How many of these folks go to church every week?” he said. “Maybe they too, like myself, should change and respect our fellow man.”

While Frank said that he does not give money to homeless people, he now makes a greater effort to talk to them and show them love and respect.

“I treat them like I would treat somebody else. They deserve that. God made us all equal. We are still humans, show some respect.”


Money, power and Humanae Vitae: the forgotten story

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 06:00

Washington D.C., Jun 11, 2018 / 04:00 am (CNA).- The controversy over Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical that reaffirmed Catholic teaching on contraception 50 years ago, cannot be understood apart from the context of a well-funded advocacy network for population control after the Second World War.
The network includes big names in grantmaking like the Ford Foundation and John D. Rockefeller III. One scholar has been writing about this network for decades.
“The campaign to persuade Catholics, leaders and the lay public, that traditional views of sexuality, abortion, and marriage were antiquated was extensive and conducted on many fronts,” Arizona State University history professor Donald Critchlow told CNA.

“Groups such as Catholics for Choice were encouraged through philanthropic grants, but the more general campaign was conducted around sexual education.”
Critchlow is the author of the 1999 Oxford University Press book “Intended Consequences: Birth Control, Abortion, and the Federal Government in Modern America.”

Together with his talk at the Catholic University of America’s April 2018 conference “The Legacy of Dissent from Humanae Vitae,” his work helps place Humanae Vitae in the political and policy context of its time.
“In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, leaders in philanthropic foundations, politics, and business joined together to undertake a campaign to control the rates of population growth. They concluded that future wars, famine, and other social ills could be prevented through a reduction in the rate of population growth.” Critchlow told CNA. “This neo-Malthusian agenda was joined by activists seeking reproductive rights for women and environmentalists seeking environmental justice.”
This took part in an environment of sexual revolution, even before the invention of the birth control pill.
“American sexual mores were already changing in the 1960s,” Critchlow continued. “Changes in sexual mores and sexual behavior cannot be attributed to one single cause. There should be little doubt, however, that elite opinion encouraged changes in sexual mores and behavior in the name of ‘progress,’ reproductive justice, and population control.”
The history professor classified the postwar era as “one of most massive efforts of social engineering in human history.”
“Many actors were found in this neo-Malthusian campaign, but it is important to emphasize that it was not a conspiracy as such,” he said. “Those involved in the population control movement and calls for publicly funded contraception, abortion, sterilization and sex education shared a general perspective on the need to control population growth and to educate the public. They saw themselves as the enlightened bringing progress to the masses, who were backward in their social, political, and religious views. “
When Humanae Vitae, issued by Pope Paul VI on July 25, 1968, reaffirmed Catholic teaching that contraception was immoral, these advocates responded strongly.
Humanae Vitae was attacked openly and publicly,” Critchlow said.
This advocacy network had Catholic allies. The National Catholic Reporter had received a leaked report backed by the majority of Paul VI’s birth control commission, which argued that contraception was compatible with the Catholic faith.
Theologian Fr. Charles Curran became the center of controversy, after the Catholic University of American overturned his tenure recommendation because he rejected Catholic teaching on birth control. The decision prompted waves of protest and controversy, and was later reversed.
Hugh Moore, a non-Catholic businessman and population control activist who had helped found the Dixie Cup Corporation, took out full page ads in the New York Times and other newspapers, circulating anti-Humanae Vitae material to the bishops and translating it into Spanish and French.
“He organized petitions from dissenting priests that were highly publicized. The Vatican, Roman Catholicism, and traditional bishops in the United States were portrayed as reactionary and out of step with modernity,” Critchlow added.
Moore had played a key role in establishing the International Planned Parenthood Federation and served as its vice-president in the mid-1960s. He helped co-found the Population Crisis Committee and was a leading advocate of voluntary sterilization.
According to Critchlow, the overall campaign against a feared “population explosion” was “conducted on many fronts, often uncoordinated, with sharp differences over strategy and tactics, but based on the assumption that population control was necessary to save humanity.”
After the Second World War, philanthropic foundations worked to establish family planning clinics outside the U.S. These foundations’ lobbyists then worked to get a U.S. commitment to domestic family planning. Under President Lyndon Johnson, anti-poverty programs saw family planning as an instrument, especially in inner city neighborhoods, black minorities, and Native American reservations. This was extended under the Nixon Administration.
Books like Paul Erhlich’s “The Population Bomb,” popular magazine articles, science fiction novels and movies raised fears of a dystopian future that would be inevitable unless population growth were controlled.
Another major name in the movement was John D. Rockefeller III, who funded many population control groups and founded the Population Council in 1952. Its charter’s first draft, which was later modified, spoke of creating conditions in which parents who are “often above average in intelligence, quality of personality” produce “larger than average families.”

Critchlow saw this as “eugenic language.”
The Ford Foundation similarly put millions of dollars into population control programs. Some donors, like Cordelia Scaife May, an heiress of the Mellon family fortune, would be drawn to more radical groups like Zero Population Growth.
In the 1960s, the Catholic bishops faced paralysis. Efforts to block the federal government’s moves to fund family planning were stalled by disagreement among the bishops and uncertainty about what Pope Paul VI would finally say about the birth control pill, among other problems, such as Catholic agencies’ and hospitals’ dependence upon federal funds.
“Catholic religious leaders, including educators, confronted a critical dilemma with deep roots in the Roman Catholic experience in America: How to be accepted in a country with a tradition of anti-Catholicism, while maintaining core Catholic principles,” said Critchlow. “Inevitably compromises were reached to ensure accommodation with a culture that was becoming increasingly secularized”
With the involvement of University of Notre Dame president Father Theodore Hesburgh’s personal assistant George Shuster, a series of meetings on human population growth were held at Notre Dame from 1963 to 1967 under the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation. They brought together selected Catholic leaders to meet with leaders of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Population Council, as well as with leaders of the Ford and Rockefeller foundations.
Critchlow, in his book “Intended Consequences” said John D. Rockefeller III and others within the foundation community were “astutely aware of the importance of changing the Catholic Church’s position on birth control” and saw the meetings as an opportunity to ally with Catholic leaders who could “help change opinion within the hierarchy.”
According to Critchlow, Fr. Hesburgh arranged for a 1965 meeting between Rockefeller and Pope Paul VI to discuss population control issues. The same year, 37 scholars who attended a conference at Notre Dame signed a confidential statement to the papal commission examining the morality of new forms of artificial birth control. Their statement lobbied for a change in the Catholic Church’s view of contraception.
Rockefeller appointed Fr. Hesburgh to the Rockefeller Foundation’s executive committee in 1966, with the understanding that he would abstain from voting on issues involving contraception, sterilization and abortion. Fr. Hesburgh served as the foundation’s chairman from 1977 to 1982.
“In the end, the bishops were forced to accommodate to dissent within the church. The Catholic Church was placed on the defensive until the rise of the abortion issue in which public opinion was much more divided on than oral contraception,” said Critchlow.
The population control programs led to several scandals involving U.S. and U.N.-sponsored family planning programs. In India, forced sterilization was widespread and drew outrage when reported. In the U.S., there were instances of federally funded forced sterilization in anti-poverty programs.
This resulted in strong attacks on population control, especially from feminists, and the movement changed strategies. It promoted delayed marriage through women’s economic and educational development.
“These goals of promoting economic independence and higher education for women in developing countries should be applauded, even if such programs are supported by feminist activists and population control advocates,” Critchlow said.
While the population control debate has shifted, the controversy over Humanae Vitae continues to this day.

Study finds Catholic school correlates with student's self-control

Sun, 06/10/2018 - 18:01

Washington D.C., Jun 10, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic elementary school students, regardless of race, sex, or socioeconomic status, have more self-control and self-discipline than their peers enrolled in either public schools or non-Catholic private schools, a recent study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found.

The study examined two surveys of the behavior of thousands of elementary school students enrolled in public, Catholic, and non-Catholic private schools.

According to the teachers in the surveys, students at Catholic schools engaged in fewer “externalizing behaviors,” meaning they did not fight, get angry, act impulsively, or disturb ongoing activities as frequently as students at other schools.

What’s more, Catholic school students are “more likely to control their temper, respect others’ property, accept their fellow students ideas, and to handle peer pressure.” This is true across demographic lines.

Acording to its website, the Fordham Institute promotes educational excellence for every child in America via quality research, analysis, and commentary. It is often described as a conservative think-tank.

While the study is encouraging, CATO Institute expert Corey A. DeAngelis warns that it is not causal, (as there was no real way to create a control group), and there could be other factors for a child’s good behavior than the type of school he or she attends.

Still, DeAngelis says there are reasons to believe that Catholic schools in particular could provide an environment to develop a sense of self-discipline.

“Religious schools may have a competitive advantage at shaping character skills because students are not just held accountable to teachers – they are also held accountable to God,” DeAnglis told CNA.

DeAngelis also speculates that the close-knit nature of many Catholic schools could foster an environment which would further benefit its students.

“Children are more likely to feel engaged and interested in a school with a strong school culture,” he explained.

One Catholic school system with a strong culture is the Cristo Rey Network. Cristo Rey schools exclusively serve underprivileged students, and the majority of its students are students of color. Its unique Corporate Work Study Program puts Cristo Rey students to work in an office environment to pay their tuition. The average Cristo Rey student is about two grade levels behind their peers, but despite this, about 90 percent of graduates will enroll in college.

Cristo Rey Network CEO Elizabeth Goettl credits the high standards set by Catholic educators for this result.

“Catholic school students may exhibit more self-discipline and self-control than their peers in other schools because of the consistent and high expectations set for such behaviors by all of the adults in the school,” Goettl. These behaviors are then modeled by older students as well as teachers, which Goettl believes has a trickle-down effect on other students.

The Fordham Institute’s study is positive news for those in favor of school choice programs.

Sr. Dale McDonald, PBVM, Ph.D., the director of public policy and educational research at the National Catholic Educational Association, told CNA that she supports these programs, as “the child should not be punished for the parents’ inability to pay.”

DeAngelis, the CATO expert, had similar thoughts.

“We already allow well-to-do families to send their children to religious schools. We shouldn’t prevent disadvantaged groups from sending their kids to religious schools just because they do not have the financial means,” he told CNA.

“Poor families should be able to freely exercise their religions even if they need a voucher to do so.”