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Cardinal Turkson: Put your faith before your nationality

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 13:02

Washington D.C., Jun 2, 2017 / 11:02 am (CNA).- Vatican experts on human development and social issues challenged Catholics around the world this week to respond with openness and a willingness to confront global issues in a truly Catholic manner.

In a meeting with reporters at Georgetown University, Cardinal Peter Turkson warned that when Catholics focus on national or regional identities first “and make that qualify Catholicism or Catholic teaching, there’s a mighty good chance that we may be going in parallel lines and never meet.”

The cardinal warned that Catholics from various regions of the world might lose sight of what’s more important when placing these identities at the forefront, rather than the faith. “The thing that binds us, that makes us common is the fact of belonging to the Catholic faith,” he stressed.

Cardinal Turkson, who serves as prefect for the Dicastery of Integral Human Development, was joined by Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, former Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, in the May 31 meeting. There at Georgetown, they spoke with reporters about a range of challenges facing the Church and the West today, including climate change, migration, education, development and social cohesion.

The two prelates came to the university as part of a national convention of Catholic university centers studying Catholic Social Teaching.

Archbishop Tomasi, who also has experience working with refugee and migration issues, warned that recent trends in the West promote what he called a “self-centered” and inward-focused politics that can distract these nations from helping to find solutions to global problems. “If you look around the world, one of the situations we see in Europe, for example, even in Africa; there is a tendency in a part of the population to close in on itself.”

“It’s a global issue and if you limit yourself to the needs of your own country,” Archbishop Tomasi said, “you are not going to solve the problem.”

To truly create solutions to social problems, however, the Church believes that care must be taken for the good of the human person, Cardinal Turkson said. “Development,” he stressed, “is ultimately about the human person.”

“The human person requires certain conditions to flourish. Some of those conditions are moral conditions. Some of them are physical,” he continued. “Human ecology from the point of view of the Church would require…legislation, policies that enable a human person to flourish and realize its dignity.”  

Development efforts that fail to recognize both the bodily and spiritual needs of persons, the cardinal warned, are “kind of flawed - it’s not quite complete.”

Similarly, efforts that promote “norms which negatively affect human growth and development,” Cardinal Turkson told CNA, pose the risk of “ideological colonization” and the pushing of harmful ideas as contingencies for development to happen in the first place.

Despite the risks of shortcomings, and collaboration in facing global struggles is a necessity – and a reason why Cardinal Turkson was disappointed to hear the United States would be re-evaluating its relationship with the Paris climate agreement. Cardinal Turkson played a major role in helping to broker the 2015 Paris climate agreement. “The truth is that climate is a global public good and not limited to any country, not limited to any nation,” he said, advocating for the acceptance of “global responsibility” for the health of the environment.

Yet, while these issues are global, response to them – both in policy and in politics – have local sources to first consult. Cardinal Turkson granted that it was understandable for a leader to reconsider the deal’s economic burdens or the weight of participation in the agreement on a given nation’s citizens. He cautioned, though, that complete abandonment should not be done without consulting other nations party to the agreement and also those threatened by climate change.

When looking towards the future, another issue the United States, Europe and other countries have to consider is the question of migration, Archbishop Tomasi stated. Pointing to special initiatives by the Holy See on migration and refugees, Archbishop Tomasi called for a global response and innovative solutions to the questions of migration.

“The fact that the Pope wants to show a special interest in migration is to emphasize the fact that that migration is not a European problem, it’s a global problem,” he said. “It touches the Americas, it touches Australia, it touches Asia, and in this sense, he wants to emphasize the need for governments to address this issue in a global way.”

An integrated, complete response to migration will require more than just readjustment of quotas or physical resettlement of migrants, the archbishop said, but considering how immigrants and refugees already fit into receiving societies. “It is in the self-interest of the United States, as it is in the self-interest of Europe, to look at immigration in a more constructive and positive way, and look at integration, rather than just debate how many we can take in.” He pointed to many industries in Western nations that rely upon immigrant labor or support.

Yet, he granted, there are serious challenges to consider, such as the integration of new immigrants into existing communities. These issues, he challenged “are very fundamental issues.”

Still, Archbishop Tomasi said, in all of these issues, Catholics who live in the United States can have a global impact. “The presence of the Catholic community in the United States plays a role in influencing the government or creating public culture.”

“It has an impact outside the United States,” Archbishop Tomasi said. “In that sense, given the political preeminence of our country, if the Catholic community succeeded in promoting certain aspects of life and culture that are acceptable in the American context, they would have an impact outside.”

 

Everything you need to know about Pentecost

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 04:52

Denver, Colo., Jun 2, 2017 / 02:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- This weekend, the Church celebrates Pentecost, one of the most important feast days of the year that concludes the Easter season and celebrates the beginning of the Church.  

Here’s what you need to know about the feast day:

The timing and origins of Pentecost

Pentecost always occurs 50 days after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and ten days after his ascension into heaven. Because Easter is a moveable feast without a fixed date, and Pentecost depends on the timing of Easter, Pentecost can fall anywhere between May 10 and June 13.

The timing of these feasts is also where Catholics get the concept of the Novena - nine days of prayer - because in Acts 1, Mary and the Apostles prayed together “continuously” for nine days after the Ascension leading up to Pentecost. Traditionally, the Church prays the Novena to the Holy Spirit in the days before Pentecost.

The name of the day itself is derived from the Greek word pentecoste, meaning 50th.

The reason Pentecost falls 50 days after Easter comes from a parallel Jewish holiday, Shavu`ot, which falls 50 days after Passover. Shavu’ot is sometimes called the festival of weeks, referring to the seven weeks since Passover.

Originally a harvest feast, Shavu`ot now commemorates the sealing of the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai, when the Lord revealed the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. Every year, the Jewish people renew their acceptance of the gift of the Torah on this feast.  

What happens at Pentecost?

In the Christian tradition, Pentecost is the celebration of the person of the Holy Spirit coming upon the Apostles, Mary, and the first followers of Jesus, who were gathered together in the Upper Room.

A “strong, driving” wind filled the room where they were gathered, and tongues of fire came to rest on their heads, allowing them to speak in different languages so that they could understand each other. It was such a strange phenomenon that some people thought the Christians were just drunk - but Peter pointed out that it was only the morning, and that the phenomenon was caused by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit also gave the apostles the other gifts and fruits necessary to fulfill the great commission - to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations. It fulfills the New Testament promise from Christ (Luke 24:46-49) that the Apostles would be “clothed with power” before they would be sent out to spread the Gospel.

Where’s that in the bible?

The main event of Pentecost (the strong driving wind and tongues of fire) takes place in Acts 2:13, though the events immediately following (Peter’s homily, the baptism of thousands) continue through verse 41.

Happy Birthday, Church

It was right after Pentecost that Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, preached his first homily to Jews and other non-believers, in which he opened the scriptures of the Old Testament, showing how the prophet Joel prophesied events and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

He also tells the people that the Jesus they crucified is the Lord and was raised from the dead, which “cuts them to the heart.” When they asked what they should do, Peter exhorts them to repent of their sins and to be baptised. According to the account in Acts, about 3,000 people were baptised following Peter’s sermon.

For this reason, Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church - Peter, the first Pope, preaches for the first time and converts thousands of new believers. The apostles and believers, for the first time, were united by a common language, and a common zeal and purpose to go and preach the Gospel.

Pentecost vestments and customs around the world

Typically, priests will wear red vestments on Pentecost, symbolic of the burning fire of God’s love and the tongues of fire that descended on the apostles.

However, in some parts of the world, Pentecost is also referred to as “WhitSunday”, or White Sunday, referring to the white vestments that are typically worn in Britain and Ireland. The white is symbolic of the dove of the Holy Spirit, and typical of the vestments that catechumens desiring baptism wear on that day.

An Italian Pentecost tradition is to scatter rose leaves from the ceiling of the churches to recall the miracle of the fiery tongues, and so in some places in Italy, Pentecost is sometimes called Pascha Rosatum (Easter roses).

In France, it is tradition to blow trumpets during Mass to recall the sound of the driving wind of the Holy Spirit.

In Asia, it is typical to have an extra service, called genuflexion, during which long poems and prayers are recited. In Russia, Mass goers often carry flowers or green branches during Pentecost services.

Illinois makes foster care workers support transgenderism

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 02:01

Chicago, Ill., Jun 2, 2017 / 12:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Earlier this month, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) issued new standards that require its employees and potential foster parents to accept and encourage children who wish to alter their gender.

The new policies state that the department “will not tolerate exposing LGBTQ children and youth to staff/providers who are not supportive of children and youths’ right to self-determination of sexual/gender identity,” The Federalist reported earlier this week.

According to the standards, all children have a “right to self-determination of gender and sexual orientation” and to choose their “sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression” which should be viewed as “developmental milestones, not problematic behavior.”  

The role of social workers and foster parents is to “facilitate exploration of any LGBTQ matters through an affirming approach…by being open, non-judgmental, and empathic.”

The standards were created with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has long championed extreme LGBT and transgender ideology, and targets any staff, volunteers or potential foster parents who are not sufficiently “LGBTQ-affirming.” Non-compliant adults face either “discipline” or “discharge.”

Mary Rice Hasson, director of the Catholic Women's Forum at The Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., criticized the new policies in an opinion piece in The Federalist last week, noting that the “fiat” to the new ideology now trumps biological facts.

"No matter that sexual difference is a scientific fact, or that billions of sane people across the world acknowledge it," she said.

The standards also state that the agency will not contract with any private agencies unless their policies are “at least as extensive” as the department’s LGBTQ policies.

“...the state’s child welfare agency is a closed shop, populated with closed minds, and intends to keep it that way. No believers in the binary need apply,” Hasson said.

She also noted that because parents relinquish all responsibility and authority over their children when they are wards of the state, parents could not request that their child not receive transgender procedures. They would simply be informed if or when their child has started hormone therapy or other treatments.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Meg Kilgannon, executive director of the Fairfax, Virginia-based Concerned Parents and Educators, criticized the policy, saying that it is ultimately an "erasure of the human person."

She noted that this policy illustrates deeper issues regarding transgenderism than the much-discussed “bathroom wars” that often make headlines.

"...when you really start to dig into this issue and you start to think about all of the ramifications that something like this means, you discover that gender identity compels speech" by coercing people to use compliant words and pronouns, she said.

"If a government entity is set to be the ultimate arbiter of someone's truth, being or existence, then at what point do parents get left out of the equation?" Kilgannon asked.

Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled against a similarly coersive transgender policy - the Obama administration’s mandate that health professionals must carry out gender reassignment surgeries, even if they have medical or religious objections.

“The regulation not only forces healthcare professionals to violate their medical judgment, it requires them to violate their deeply held religious beliefs,” U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas said in a Dec. 31 decision granting a temporary injunction against the Obama administration.

“Tragically, the regulation would force them to violate those religious beliefs and perform harmful medical transition procedures or else suffer massive financial liability,” the judge added.

Many in the medical field have expressed serious concerns about encouraging transgenderism - particularly hormonal regimens and genital surgeries - in children.

In a paper entitled “Gender Ideology Harms Children,” , last updated in May 2017, The American College of Pediatricians said that to encourage a child into thinking that “a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse,” they added.  

Plastic surgeon Dr. Patrick Lappert said during a conference earlier this year that one of the biggest problems with transgender sex change surgeries is that they are permanent and irreversible in any meaningful way, Dr. Lappert said.

“...it's a permanent, irreversible mutilation of the human person. And there’s no other word for it,” he said.  

“It results in permanent sterility. It’s a permanent dissolution of the unitive and the procreative functions. And even the unitive aspect of the sexual embrace is radically hindered if not utterly destroyed,” he said.

This is not the first time that the Illinois DCFS has introduced controversial LGBTQ policies. In 2011, they became the first state to force the Catholic Church out of adoption and foster care services for their refusal to place children with same-sex couples.

Currently, the DCFS is also embroiled in another controversy regarding the death of Semaj Crosby, a foster child under their care. It was announced Wednesday that current DCFS director George Sheldon has resigned in the face of the ethics probe. In the last five years, the DCFS has gone through eight directors or acting directors amid various failures in leadership, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Maryland bishops call for compassion, prudence on immigration

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 00:58

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lawsuit says farmer's market wrongly barred Catholic farmer

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 22:01

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 18:24

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And I went, alright, let’s do it!”  

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

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

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

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

The responses varied widely, the priest said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 17:49

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 08:02

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flying on Sunday? Many airport chapels offer Mass

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 02:07

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Trump admin ponders new religious freedom rule for HHS mandate

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 17:51

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Portland archbishop calls for prayer, action following train stabbing

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 16:55

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Why women aren't choosing adoption – and how pro-lifers can change that

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 17:55

Washington D.C., May 29, 2017 / 03:55 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- At 21 years old, Millie Lopus was pregnant and scared. A rising college senior at Loyola University Maryland, she was being pressured into having an abortion by her ex-boyfriend, the father of the child.

But after he drove Millie to a nearby Planned Parenthood to set up an abortion appointment, she recalled having “a sliver of grace,” and she “did not set up an appointment that day.”

“I chose instead to go through with the pregnancy,” she recalled, and gave the baby up for adoption. “I am eternally grateful that I have been spared the abortion experience,” Lopus said at a May 15 panel on “Adopting Life.”

The Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C. hosted a three-part panel series on adoption on May 8, May 15, and May 22. The goal was to discuss how the pro-life movement can create a “radical culture of hospitality” for those facing a crisis pregnancy, and for their children.

Lopus’ story reflects countless other narratives of young mothers who are pressured against giving their baby up for adoption.

Today, mothers choose abortion at a far greater rate than adoption. In 2014, there were almost 1 million abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, but there were only 18,329 infant domestic adoptions, according to numbers provided by the National Council for Adoptions.

“Adoption as a real solution is often overlooked,” said Elizabeth Kirk, a writer and researcher who spoke on one of the CIC panels.

There are several reasons for this, she explained. Women have said in studies that “adoption is not a realistic option for them” and that they would suffer more guilt in leaving their child to an unknown future than in terminating the pregnancy.

They may also be facing pressure from loved ones or advisors against adoption. There are reported instances of Planned Parenthood workers “advising women that adoption is more traumatic than abortion,” Kirk said. Even crisis pregnancy centers may be reticent to bring up adoption to a mother because they fear that broaching the topic may “drive her to abort her child.”

Yet if a women is truly incapable of raising her child, and adoption isn’t in the picture, then abortion may seem like “the only real choice,” she said.

As for Millie Lopus? After she decided to carry the baby to term, she returned to school for the fall semester of her senior year. She played the entire tennis season, where she finished first in the conference in the doubles tournament. She left Loyola in the spring to have her baby daughter, and gave her up for adoption to a Catholic family.

Her daughter is now 24 years old, an actor and singer, and Lopus has three other children of her own. She now directs the New Women’s Care Center in Baltimore, a Catholic pro-life crisis pregnancy resource center offering free pregnancy tests, sonograms, and resources for pregnant mothers. For post-abortive women, they also refer for retreats through Project Rachel.

Yet within the pro-life movement, there still exists a debate over how much emphasis to place on the option of adoption. Many mothers may be emotionally or financially unable to raise their child and some, like Kirk, argue that far too little is said to these mothers about their option to give their child up for adoption.

Negative stories from the foster care system may be responsible for much of the stigma against adoption, even though mothers have the choice of offering a child for adoption privately or through a small center. There are almost 112,000 children waiting to be adopted in the foster care system, the average wait time being 31.8 months. Around 55 percent of the children have been placed with families three or more times, Kirk noted.

Studies show detrimental effects on children the longer they stay in the system, deficits in education, relationships, and an uptick in future criminal activity.

As a result, pregnant women “think their children are better off dead than placed with an adoptive family,” Kirk said.

Yet many Catholic parents are waiting to adopt and love a child, especially if they are not able to have any of their own, panel members insisted.

Once the prohibitive costs of the process are removed from the equation, “everyone starts looking at adoption for what it really is, it’s the greatest act of love,” Mary L. Ball, J.D., founder of Holy Family Adoption Agency, said at the May 15 CIC panel.

Birth mothers “want more for their child than they can give them,” she said, while a married couple is also looking to give a child unconditional love.

“I really think that adoption is the missing link in the pro-life movement,” she said. “We don’t talk enough about it.”

Dr. Grazie Christie, a radiologist and a policy advisor for The Catholic Association, agreed, and shared her own decision to adopt after having four children.

“We didn’t need a child. We had plenty of children,” she said of her family, yet “we had so much” and wanted to adopt as “an act of love.” They adopted a child from outside the U.S.

Yet she wasn’t ready for the skepticism and criticism she faced for her decision.

“We got a lot of negativity from people around us,” she said, including questions and observations like “You’re crazy,” “You don’t know what you’re going to get,” “You’re going out to get other people’s problems and bring them home,” and “Don’t you have enough children?”

“I was pained by it,” she said, but when she received her new daughter and began caring for her, “it was hands-down the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me.”

More married couples, upon finding that they are unable to have children, are turning to fertility treatments or in-vitro fertilization, but there are thousands of babies available for adoption, aching for a home, Dr. Christie said.

Ultimately, Christians and pro-lifers should be doing much more to promote adoption even if they themselves can’t adopt children, panel experts insisted.

“We have to very much, very specifically, very purposefully build a culture of adoption,” Dr. Christie said. “It has to be seen as yet another way that God matches children with their parents.”

“We all have a duty to practice this kind of radical hospitality” and “welcome the stranger,” Kirk said. And today’s stranger is the unwanted child in danger of abortion, she added. “Every couple is called to think about what they’re doing to help the orphan, to help the widow.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that all couples must adopt a child, however.

For instance, Tina Andrews is CEO of ADORE Children and Family Services, which is a “therapeutic foster care agency” for children who have been neglected or abused. For prospective parents, she promotes “fostering to adopt,” where couples must undergo 40 hours of training and be involved in a foster parent support group before they can be paired with a child. ADORE monitors the placement of the child even after the family takes them in.

Many parents may “want a child,” she said, but they lack the parenting skills or the necessary support system for a child, and so her group looks to make sure that the fit will be the right one.

However, promoting adoption may be as simple as “educating people about the reality of what contemporary adoption looks like,” Kirk said.  Now, a mother has more power to choose the family she will place her child with, and this growth in culture should be talked about.

Dr. Christie said that while going through the adoption process, she was struck by the fact that adoption mirrors God’s relationship with us.  

“In bringing joy to others, in redeeming others” through adoption, “we allow ourselves to be redeemed in the process,” added Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin, resident research fellow at the Tikvah Fund.

“We need to live by example in this area,” he said of pro-lifers. “I think it’s a cultural change that needs to happen.”

 

Denver to provide lockers for city's homeless

Sat, 05/27/2017 - 18:02

Denver, Colo., May 27, 2017 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In response to Denver's large homeless population, the city is providing lockers for the homeless to place their belongings so they can take better advantage of local outreach programs.

If the homeless are worried about where to place their belongings and “don't have access to safe, secure storage and those are all your possessions in the world,” then they aren't going to utilize available resources said Julie Smith, a spokesperson from Denver Human Services, to the Denverite May 23.

Ten storage units were added to a street downtown, where many homeless shelters are located. Smith explained the containers will hold about as much stuff as will fit into a shopping cart, and can be reserved for 30 days with the option of an additional 30 day renewal. The sidewalk lockers cost about $3,000 for each installment.

Teaming up with the Saint Francis Center, Denver is also planning on adding 200 more storage spaces at the organizations employment service center, located near the city's capital building. The contract between the city of Denver and the Saint Francis Center will start on June 1 and with $130,000 for the first year of storage space. After that, the center will then be given $100,000 a year if the contract continues.

Smith said the pilot program will measure the use and frequency of the storage systems, and will reassess in year. However, she said in order to access these lockers the person must be actively involved in one of Denver's many homeless services.

Denver's Road Home has over 20 community based organizations aiding thousands of homeless people to find a job, skill train, long term and short term shelters as well as providing food and clothing. According to their website, nearly a thousand people were provided with housing last year.

Part of Denver's many programs is the Saint Francis Center, an Episcopal ministry serving homeless and ex-offenders. It was established in 1983 and has since developed career services and a housing program. An additional program providing permanent lower income housing will be made available in 2017 or 2018.

In 2015, the center served an average of 811 people per day, distributed nearly 90,000 units of clothing, and facilitated jobs for just under 400 people.

Colorado has a large homeless population, and it has increased by over six percent between 2015 and 2016, according to an annual report by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Over 10,000 people were considered homeless in 2016, and less than one third of that do not have a shelter.

US bishop says Trump budget at odds with Catholic, American ideals

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 19:22

Louisville, Ky., May 26, 2017 / 05:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The former head of the US bishops decried President Trump's budget plan, claiming its cuts to social services conflict with both the Catholic faith and American principles.

“Whether through Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps or foreign aid, our nation has recognized that our worth is judged by how we treat the most vulnerable among us,” Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky said in a May 24 article published by Courier-Journal.

“The concept is shared by many religions and has become part of the ethos of the United States.”

President Trump issued 2018’s budget proposal, “The New Foundation for American Greatness,” on Tuesday. The proposal would defund many aid programs benefiting the poor, the environment, and the foreign aid, drawing outcry from organizations like Catholic Charities and Catholic relief services.

The budget proposes 4.1 trillion dollars for 2018, with budget cuts expected to affect nearly $19 billion in global aid according to Reuters.

Catholic leaders have applauded that federal funding will be redirected from Planned Parenthood to women's health centers that do not perform abortions. But they lament the decrease in funding to US charitable programs.

“Our church has always said that we fulfill our responsibility to the poor not only through personal charity, but also through our support for just governmental policies,” Archbishop Kurtz said.

“The work of these agencies to serve the most vulnerable people depends on both private contributions and public support.”

Archbishop Kurtz, who served as president of the U.S. Bishops' Conference from 2013-2016, discussed the benefits of foreign aid, especially to schools which provide both food and education.

“Right now in many developing countries, hundreds of thousands of kids get a nutritional meal every day at school … Sometimes that’s the reason they go to school. It’s a win-win situation: They get fed, and they get educated. They benefit. Their country benefits.”

He continued to give the example of Thomas Awiapo, who went to school solely because he was hungry. Receiving an education, he now works at Catholic Relief Services providing similar relief to other children.

After his father died, Awiapo was forced to live with his extended family. The family was already struggling with food, including family members who died from malnutrition. He then saw his friend returning from school with sorghum, a grain often used to feed US cattle. Attending school, he worked was able to receive food and education, and eventually he received his master’s in public administration.

The programs not only work, said the archbishop, but are part of U.S. history and serve to affirm the inherit dignity of the person. He expressed hopes that Congress would consider this and reject the proposal.

The budget cut would affect both Catholic Relief Services, an international aid program established in 1943, and Catholic Charities, a national relief program established in 1910. The programs rely on funding from private and public donations.

A budget cut for the next 10 years will decrease funding to national welfare programs by over $270 billion and $72 billion to disability programs in order to prepare for the increase in national defense.

Included in the proposal is an additional $54 billion to US military funding and $2.7 billion to immigration control. Military funding will have a total of $639 billion. Over $44 billion will go towards the Department of Homeland Security and nearly $28 billion to the Department of Justice.

This parish is hosting a benefit concert for children with cancer

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 18:12

Charleston, W.Va., May 26, 2017 / 04:12 pm (CNA).- A young girl in Charles Town, West Virginia was undergoing treatment for bone cancer when she dreamed about meeting a beautiful princess.

She later identified that princess as St. Philomena, and when she eventually recovered from bone cancer after extensive treatment, her family attributed the recovery to the intercession of St. Philomena, who is known as the patron of difficult situations, especially for youth.

In honor of her experience, the Catholic parish of St. James in Charles Town, West Virginia is holding their second annual St. Philomena Medical Benefit Concert, which will aid cancer victims and their families.

“The people of St. James have done their best to provide support to alleviate the strain that families naturally feel during these difficult times,” stated Angie Cummings, a member of the parish.

“Many have reported that, as they have done their best to exercise the faith during these trials, they have felt the presence of God grow stronger in their lives,” she continued.

Over the years, multiple individuals in the St. James community have experienced cancer, including three children, and many have lost family members to the disease.

St. James Catholic Church will donate all of the proceeds from the benefit concert to the Father McGivney Medical Assistance Fund. Founded by the local Knights of Columbus, the fund will be used to help out with medical expenses for local cancer patients.

The concert will feature the world-famous Irish band Scythian, with other music groups such as New Tides, the Santiago Mountain Band, and Holy Trinity Choir.

The benefit will take place on Saturday, June 10 at St. James Catholic Church in Charles Town. The doors will open at 6:15, and all tickets can be purchased online at Eventbrite.

More information can be found at RadioHeart Media.

Military chaplains help traumatized soldiers, but who helps them?

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 17:02

Washington D.C., May 26, 2017 / 03:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As military veterans and victims of violence are treated for psychological trauma, the emotional wounds of missionaries and military chaplains might be overlooked, but are just as present.

And with mass shootings, suicides, and acts of terrorism on the rise, more and more first responders like policemen, firemen, hospital workers, and clergy will “continually bear the brunt” of experiencing these horrors.

That's according to Monsignor Stephen Rosetti, a psychologist and former president of the St. Luke Institute, who spoke to CNA.

“The priests are helping others, and the question is who helps them?” he asked.

Monsignor Rosetti led the St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Md., an organization that provides psychological care for priests and religious in need of treatment for mental illness, addiction, and other disorders.

Part of the institute’s ministry is helping military chaplains and missionaries who have served in war-torn areas, but also religious who have ministered to victims of trauma at home – amidst events like natural disasters and mass shootings.

Military chaplains suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other mental illnesses related to their ministry shared their struggles with the Washington Post last year. Repeatedly serving as a listening ear for the dark problems of soldiers, combined with experiencing the horror of battlefield combat and seeing the dead bodies of friends, can take its toll on a priest’s psyche.

“Just about all” priests and religious returning from a war-torn areas will need “some sort of support,” Monsignor Rossetti noted, like a “detoxing” in their transition from a stressful environment to life back in the U.S.

However, a few will require special attention, he said. These are cases where someone has experienced a particularly appalling atrocity or ongoing violence or stress, “almost too much for the human soul to bear.”

“I think especially of missionaries who are in violent areas,” he said, those who have witnessed “mass murders” or “unbelievable poverty and disease.”

For any clergyman traveling to a poor or war-torn area, “we try to train them as best we can to deal with such trauma” before they depart, the monsignor said, “but sometimes the situation is just so horrible that there’s a real human toll to it.”

Trauma – inflicted especially through acts of terrorism, mass shootings, and suicides – is on the rise, he said. The suicide rate in the U.S. is the highest in decades; the number of mass shootings are also on the rise.

Catholics cannot act as if the first responders like parish priests or military chaplains won’t be affected, he insisted. We must “help train them” to deal with trauma, he said, noting the need for “qualified laypeople” in fields like psychology.

Also, he added, “I think we shouldn’t isolate our chaplains.” Rather, we should be working to connect “first responders” like police, emergency medical technicians, hospital nurses and priests, who can talk about their experiences with each other and “support each other,” he said.

Tragedies can make or break someone’s faith, he added. If a person who has experienced trauma is treated with professional psychological care and a network of support, it can help sustain one’s faith and not break one’s spirit.

“Unspeakable sufferings do challenge our faith, and in times when our faith is a little bit too glib, it kind of bashes that and challenges it,” he admitted. “So these kind of events really challenge us to move deeper into the Lord’s passion and eventually, hopefully, His resurrection.”

“It can build up your faith in a new, deeper way, or sadly sometimes people lose their faith.”

 

This article was originally published on CNA June 5, 2016.

What can we learn from the newest priests? Encourage vocations

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 08:04

Washington D.C., May 26, 2017 / 06:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Members of the newest priestly ordination class in the United States were closely connected to the Church growing up through their Catholic school or parish, according to a new survey of the 2017 ordinands.

“They’re much more likely than Catholics in general to have attended Catholic school. A third of them have a relative who’s a priest or religious. They come from pretty active Catholic families,” Dr. Mary L. Gautier, co-author of “The Class of 2017: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood,” told CNA.

“They have more opportunity to be aware of and around priests,” she added.

The annual survey of ordinands is conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University (CARA).

This year’s survey featured 444 respondents, 343 of whom are entering the diocesan priesthood, from 140 dioceses. 101 of the respondents are entering the religious priesthood. The survey was conducted in March 2017.

According to the U.S. bishops’ conference, CARA compiles data every year for the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.

The average age of ordination has continued a slight, yet steady downward trend in age from 1999, as the 2017 class average was 34 years, down from 36 years in 1999. 16 was the average age the ordinands first began considering the priesthood.

Most of this year’s ordinands – 82 percent – were “encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life,” most often by a parish priest, although others reported being encouraged by a friend, family member, parent, teacher, or parishoner.

That “staggering number” should spur the faithful to be aware of their role in encouraging vocations, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, chair of the bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, stated in response to the survey.

“That statistic should motivate all the faithful to be sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit, who may wish to use them to extend the invitation to ordained ministry,” he said.

Conversely, almost half the respondents (48 percent), including 60 percent of those in religious life, reported being dissuaded from entering the seminary by someone else.

Encouragement of young men to enter the seminary is indeed a “very important” factor in their decision, Gautier said, encouragement “from family, friends, the parish priest, the teachers in the school, all of that makes a difference.

Seminarians were more likely than the average Catholic child to be involved in their parish and attend Catholic school, according to several statistics taken together.

“Between 40 and 50 percent” of the respondents went to Catholic school at some point in their life – anywhere from kindergarten through tertiary education -- and almost six in ten (59 percent) received religious education at their parish, “for seven years, on average,” the study said.

They were much more likely than the average Catholic adult to attend Catholic school, especially as they grew older.

Half of respondents attended Catholic grade school (K-8), 11 percentage points higher than the national average of 38 percent among adult Catholics. 41 percent of respondents attended a Catholic high school compared to the national average of just 19 percent, and 40 percent attended a Catholic college, much higher than the national average of 10 percent among adult Catholics.

Many ordinands were involved in their parish, either in their prayer life and/or through ministries.

Three-fourths were altar servers at their parish, and 52 percent of respondents served as lectors at Mass. 43 percent were Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Almost four in five regularly prayed at Eucharistic Adoration and almost seven in ten prayed the rosary.

And many were involved in group prayer, as almost half attended a regular prayer group or Bible study. Almost half “participated in parish youth groups,” and 34 percent were part of Catholic campus ministry or a Newman Center in college.

Regarding family life, the ordinands had an average of three siblings in their family, and are “very unlikely to be only children,” Gautier said. They are often the oldest siblings in their family, but in 2017 more respondents were middle children than were oldest children in their families.

Demographically, the class did not reflect an increasingly large Hispanic Catholic population in the U.S., and this is a challenge for vocations directors, Gautier acknowledged.

Seven in ten respondents were Caucasian, while only one-fourth were foreign-born. Meanwhile, the Hispanic Catholic population is growing, making up 34 percent of the overall Catholic population in the U.S. and 46 percent of Catholic Millennials, according to Pew Research in 2015.

“I think vocation directors are aware of the challenge and are actively working to increase vocations in the Hispanic community, but it’s not reflected in the numbers of ordinands, at least this year,” Gautier explained.

43 percent of the respondents listed an undergraduate degree from a college or university as their highest education level before entering seminary, and 16 percent said a graduate degree was their highest level. Those in religious life were on average more highly educated, as the vast majority (86 percent) of respondents in religious life had received an undergraduate or a graduate degree, compared to 52 percent of diocesan ordinands.

Almost one third (28 percent) of the respondents “carried educational debt, which averaged $28,318, at the time they entered the seminary,” the study showed.

Of those who carried such debt into seminary, they “were able to reduce it to an average amount of $25,830 which is 9 percent less than when they entered (unadjusted for inflation),” the study showed.

Respondents who were in religious life were actually able to reduce their student debt by almost half (46 percent) while in seminary, as almost three-fourths of them received assistance for this from their religious community. Meanwhile, the average debt for seminarians preparing for diocesan priesthood increased slightly.

How a nun's home is helping girls freed from sex trafficking

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 05:33

Baton Rouge, La., May 26, 2017 / 03:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The numbers are staggering. Each year in the U.S. alone, some 300,000 minors are victims of sex trafficking.

In Louisiana, state estimates indicate that about 40 percent of juvenile victims are being trafficked by their primary care giver: a mother, father, foster parent, uncle, a mother’s boyfriend.

Father Jeff Bayhi has heard unspeakable stories of sex trafficking victims over the years.

That’s why the pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Zachary, La. has worked to open Metanoia Home, a Baton Rouge-area shelter for sixteen women under age 21.

Caring for the victims are four Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy from India, Nigeria, the Philippines and Madagascar.

“They’re not there as social workers or therapists,” but as mother figures, Fr Bayhi said. “They’re going to be there, and be a safe place for these children to be. To be loved, to be nurtured, to be made felt special again in the sight of God.”

The project is modeled after the initiatives of Sister Eugenia Bonetti. The Milan-based Consolata Missionary sister heads the Slaves No More association. She has trained responders to help trafficking victims. Her former students work around the world.

“We have worked with her a great deal,” Fr. Bayhi said of Sr. Bonetti. “She has been here and addressed our legislature. She’s our model.”

Given the grim reality of human trafficking, thousands more people are needed to follow that model.

Trafficking problems in Louisiana are often attributed to its 15 million annual tourists who visit the state, especially New Orleans. The interstate highway that passes through Southern Louisiana runs across the country from Florida to California.

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services reported that more than 350 trafficking victims were found in 2015, and nearly 450 in 2016. Half of the victims were children, the CBS affiliate WAFB reports.

Young victims come from families that are not intact and have little supervision. Those raised by someone with a drug or alcohol addiction face some of the greatest risks.

Even so, traffickers target girls and women from all backgrounds.

“We have kids being seduced out of our high schools,” Fr. Bayhi said, citing the case of a 17-year-old senior at a white suburban high school who trafficked two 13-year-old freshman girls.

He said traffickers can target their victims through convincing them to engage in “sexting,” sending sexually explicit photos via phone.

“After that stuff gets out, these people own you,” he said. Other forms of blackmail can involve drugging the victim and filming her in a compromising act.

What do trafficking victims need?

“They need a safe place to be made human again,” said Fr. Bayhi. “When you’re 15 years old, and you’ve performed 3,000 sexual favors, you’re no longer a person, you’re nothing more than a receptacle in your own eyes.”

“Our response is the religious sisters who are there,” he said. “These nuns are the heroes. How do you pay people in eight hour shifts to convince a 15-year-old who has been abused that they really love them? You can’t do it. That’s why the nuns are just so incredibly important to this.”

The nuns of Metanoia Home will have the assistance of other professional volunteers including physicians, nurses, social workers and educators to complement their own expertise in helping victims.

“We need to get them stable, we need to get them to believe in themselves. We need to reconnect these children with God,” Fr. Bayhi said, noting that the house is open to anyone regardless of religion.

The potential beneficiaries could have very different experiences. Recovery for a 17-year-old victim who was trafficked for three months will be much different than for a 14-year-old who has suffered for four years in captivity.

“We will want the children to finally have someone in their life that we trust,” said the priest. Metanoia Home aims to help victims recover from their experience and re-integrate into society.

Increasing efforts are being made to work against human trafficking in Louisiana. Anti-trafficking programs in the state include special training for police officers to help them recognize victims of sex traffickers, rather than treat them as criminals. Fr. Bayhi praised the collaborative work between legislators, the governor, law enforcement, members of the judiciary and state agencies.

In January a delegation of Louisiana anti-trafficking leaders attended Pope Francis’ Wednesday general audience, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards led the delegation, which included Fr. Bayhi.

“It’s really a tragic circumstance and we have to really do much better in Louisiana and around the country,” Gov. Edwards told Vatican Radio in January.

Father Bayhi told CNA that the delegation had a very brief moment with Pope Francis, who thanked them and encouraged them to continue. The delegation spent considerable time with Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, whom Fr. Bayhi described as the Pope’s anti-trafficking point man.

The priest commented on inhuman trends in society that he sees as creating a breeding ground for trafficking.

“The sad fact is, there’s a market,” he said. Older men seek out little girls or boys as young as 12.

“One of the things I think you have to understand: human trafficking is not a problem. Human trafficking is a symptom,” he added. “We live in a society where we determine who has the right to be born. We live in a society where we get to decide who dies and when, with our elderly. And now there’s some recent things about Planned Parenthood, we’re talking about selling baby parts and making $52,000/week on baby parts.”

“For God’s sake, we have so devalued the dignity of human life that by and large as a society we see human life as a matter of profit, pleasure or possession,” he said. “Human life has become a commodity. Human trafficking is one more aspect of that.”

In January Fr. Bayhi told Vatican Radio that internet pornography is not a victimless crime.

“Someone is there making those kids do that stuff,” he said. “They are not there voluntarily and you’re paying the money that makes it worthwhile to kidnap these kids and force them into that. You may have never picked up one of these children on a roadside but you make that possible.”

The priest suggested to CNA that the Church and the U.S. bishops’ conference could engage in more education and outreach efforts to help trafficking victims.

“We need to respond to the needs of these kids,” he said, urging people to recognize the signs of trafficking.

“Someone 35 years-old with four 16-year-olds around him, shopping at Wal-Mart, if they’re hanging on him like he’s the best thing since sliced bread, something’s wrong with that picture. Something’s really wrong,” he said.

A Church response could involve the observance of the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, an ex-slave from Sudan. Her feast day coincides with the Feb. 8 International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.

Fr. Bayhi suggested priests should be taught about human trafficking and how to preach about it. For their part, the U.S. bishops’ conference could dedicate more resources to anti-trafficking work.

As for Louisiana’s Metanoia Home, the nuns moved in on May 20. They are prepared to be mothers to young women in need.

Metanoia Home’s website is http://metanoia-inc.org.

 

New video shows graphic discussion of aborted baby parts

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 02:42

Washington D.C., May 26, 2017 / 12:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Preview footage released recently by the Center for Medical Progress appears to show participants at a national abortion convention casually discussing the skulls, eyeballs and other baby body parts they encounter in abortion procedures.

“An eyeball just fell down into my lap, and that is gross!” says one panelist in the video, to laughter from the crowd.

“When the skull is broken, that’s really sharp!” another says.

The footage also appears to show a person acknowledging, “We certainly do intact D&Es,” a presumed reference to dilation-and-extraction, or partial-birth abortions, which are illegal under federal law.

Planned Parenthood employees also appear in the footage discussing baby organs that are given to biotech firms for money.

“They’re wanting livers,” one abortion provider says. “Sometimes she’ll tell me she wants brain,” another medical director says.

The Center for Medical Progress – an investigative journalism group – released the undercover footage, which it says was collected at the 2014 and 2015 National Abortion Federation conventions.

It’s the latest in a series of videos the group has released. Previous videos have appeared to show employees in the abortion industry discussing the sale of body parts from aborted babies and talking about altering abortion procedures in order to obtain the best “specimens” of baby parts.

Other videos have also appeared to show employees setting abortion quotas at some clinics, and suggesting that they decide how to handle babies born alive after botched abortions based on “who’s in the room” at the time.

The Center for Medical Progress videos have given great momentum to efforts to end state and federal taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, which receives about half a billion dollars in federal funds annually, about 40 percent of its operating budget. While this money is forbidden by law from funding abortions, critics charge that these rules may not always be followed, and that any federal funding frees up other money for abortions.

In January 2017, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives Select Investigative Panel investigating fetal tissue procurement released its report declaring that there are abuses and possible criminal violations in the area. The procurement of fetal tissue for profit is illegal.

Although a dozen states opened investigations into the organizations involved, they did not find legally admissible evidence of wrongdoing.

Backers of Planned Parenthood have charged that the videos were deceptively edited, a charge Daleiden has strongly contested, releasing the full videos to support his claim.

Daleiden is currently facing criminal charges for filming people without their consent in California. He claims that he is protected as an undercover journalist.

 

 

Can you be pro-life and anti-war? In Pittsburgh, apparently not.

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 20:00

Pittsburgh, Pa., May 25, 2017 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- On Tuesday, a “Consistent Life Ethic” group was booted from sponsorship of the Pittsburgh March Against War after Facebook complaints against their pro-life stance.

Rehumanize International, previously Life Matters Journal, is a group that opposes all violence against human beings, including abortion, war, euthanasia, torture, capital punishment and human sex trafficking.

They were invited to co-sponsor the Pittsburgh March Against War, set to take place this summer, and were then removed from sponsorship after a vote of the other co-sponsors, following several complaints on the event’s Facebook page.

By Wednesday afternoon, the Facebook page for the March event had been deleted.

The Pittsburgh March Against War was organized by the Pittsburghers in Solidarity Against War, a coalition consisting of several organizations: the Anti-War Committee of the Thomas Merton Center, Veterans for Peace, CAIR Pittsburgh, International Socialist Organization - Pittsburgh, Socialist Alternative, Party for Socialism and Liberation, ANSWER Coalition, WILPF Pittsburgh, the Democratic Socialists of America, and Redneck Revolt.  

CNA reached out to all of the co-sponsor groups and the March event’s main e-mail for comment on this story, but did not receive any responses, aside from the Thomas Merton Center, by press time.

Aimee Murphy, Executive Director of Rehumanize International, said that she was first invited by one of the co-sponsors to a meeting about the Pittsburgh March Against War, a grassroots event scheduled to take place July 1 at the Schenley Plaza. Murphy previously hadn’t heard about the March, but wanted her organization to get involved after attending the meeting.

Murphy said she introduced herself, as well as the vision of Rehumanize, at the meeting and handed out her card to multiple people before her organization was added to the sponsors of the event.

“I handed out my card and said yeah, we’re kind of new to this, but check us out. So people in the roundtable had ample opportunity to vet us before they ever added us to the event, and they didn’t,” Murphy told CNA.

Once the group was added to the list of sponsors on the Facebook event, attendees began researching the group and complaining about Rehumanize’s pro-life stance in Facebook comments.

While the event page was deleted Wednesday, Murphy saved screenshots of some of the comments.

“...I can’t and won’t march alongside a group that equates my choices as a person with a uterus and my work as a scientist with war and imperialism. It’s dehumanizing and detrimental to the anti-war and anti-imperialist movement overall…” Abby Cartus wrote in Facebook comments on the event.

“I definitely believe Rehumanize was passed off as an anti-war group,” wrote another commenter, who amended her comment to be “an anti-war group only.”

In a Medium post, Patrick Young said that most people involved in Rehumanize “seem like caring and loving people. I do believe that they genuinely intend to be loving and compassionate in their work. They’ve gone to great lengths to separate themselves from the hateful and aggressive anti-abortion advocates that have been so persistent for decades and train volunteers on what they believe is a compassionate approach.”

Nevertheless, he said, they engage in the “abhorrent” practice of approaching women outside of abortion clinics “to guilt and shame women out of choosing to have an abortion,” and therefore he believes they were rightly removed from co-sponsorship of the anti-war march.

The Thomas Merton Center (TMC), which created the event Facebook page, responded that they were listening to concerns and that many of the groups planning the event only became aware of Rehumanize’s ideology “that stand against our human rights” after the Facebook comments.

On Tuesday night, a democratic vote was held with the co-sponsors of the event on whether or not to remove Rehumanize from sponsorship. Murphy said she was included in the call, and the thread of the conversation was whether or not an anti-abortion group could be allowed to sponsor the anti-war March.

As stated on the event page, before it was deleted: "The votes consist of 8-remove, 1-abstain, 2-absent, and 1-remain. Rehumanize International was removed as a member of the organizing group and sponsor of the Pittsburgh March Against War."

A statement on the Rehumanize International Facebook page reads: "Though we know that this is not meant as a personal slight against us, we are disappointed in the decision to exclude pro-life anti-war organizers as we fear it sends a signal to grassroots pro-peace, pro-life people that they are not welcome in the anti-war movement. [As with any social movement dedicated to the abolition of violence,] in order to end the atrocity of war, we need everyone committed to peace."

Murphy said she was “flabbergasted” that a representative of the TMC voted to "remove" Rehumanize, because Thomas Merton was a Catholic, pro-life Trappist monk who believed in a consistent life ethic.

"It seems a little strange that we are so wildly exercised about the ‘murder’ (and the word is of course correct) of an unborn infant by abortion... and yet accept without a qualm the extermination of millions of helpless and innocent adults... I submit that we ought to fulfill the one without omitting the other," Thomas Merton wrote in a letter to fellow activist Dorothy Day on Dec. 20, 1961.

Antonio Lodico, Executive Director of the TMC, told CNA that the involvement of the center in the March was largely through their anti-war committee, which consists of volunteers. Lodico said the TMC did not cast a vote regarding whether or not to remove Rehumanize because they had not had a chance as an organization to meet and discuss beforehand.

The TMC vote was likely a provincial vote cast by a representative of the volunteer group, but one that is considered binding unless the group changes their vote in the future. CNA asked the TMC to be put in contact with their volunteer anti-war committee but did not receive a response by press time.

Lodico added that while the TMC created the Facebook event for the March, they had given admin access to several of the co-sponsor groups and are unsure which group deleted the event.

“You may have received a notification that the Thomas Merton Center deleted the Pittsburgh March Against War Facebook event page. We did not approve deleting this event. A co-host deleted the event. The groups involved in planning this event are just finding out about this now. We acknowledge the labor that went into the education and conversation on the Facebook page and we regret that this effort was lost,” the TMC said in a Facebook post on their page.

This is not the first time that Rehumanize International has been excluded from sponsoring or organizing marches and protests. According to a press release from the group, “leading up to the Women's March earlier this year, they were summarily ignored despite their support of women's rights and nonviolence (while their sister group New Wave Feminists was accepted, then removed as a partner).”

Murphy noted in the press release that Rehumanize will attend the anti-war march regardless of whether or not they are sponsors.

"We are anti-war for the same reason we are anti-abortion: we believe in the inherent dignity of human beings and therefore, that all violence against them is contrary to that dignity," Murphy said.

"Because those who are bombed, aborted, and killed by other acts of aggression cannot afford for us to cease our holistic, human-centered work, we will march on July 1, even if we are unwanted. We will be there, supporting a message for peace and all life."

Following the deletion of the Facebook event, it is unclear whether the March will continue.

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