Browsing News Entries

Santa Fe archdiocese again suspending public Mass

Denver Newsroom, Oct 23, 2020 / 04:37 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Santa Fe is indefinitely suspending all public Masses after the weekend, citing rising COVID-19 cases in New Mexico and the approaching flu season.

The archdiocese’s schools may remain open.

In an Oct. 22 letter, Archbishop John Wester directed that all scheduled Masses be livestreamed or recorded starting Oct. 25. He said churches may remain open for private prayer, as long as people remain masked and socially distanced.

Funerals should be “delayed if possible,” with funeral rites without a Mass having ten or fewer people present, and anointing of the sick may continue “with due care,” he added.

Archbishop Wester said that “hospitals are also reaching maximum capacity for treating patients.”

The archbishop said there has been “no significant increase in the number of cases in our Catholic schools,” and thus Catholic schools may remain open “in accordance with the judgment of the pastor, superintendent and principals.” He said schools should prepare to provide online instruction if the need arises.

The archdiocese did not respond to CNA’s inquiry about whether there have been any outbreaks of the virus associated with the celebration of Mass in the archdiocese.

Since May 16-17, churches in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe have been allowed to reopen for the public celebration of Mass in line with phase one of the governor’s reopening guidelines, initially allowing for attendance set at 10% of building capacity, which was later expanded to 25%.

Under guidelines posted on the archdiocesan website, various restrictions on the celebration of the liturgy remain in place, including a prohibition on congregants singing.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has not issued any new orders telling houses of worship in the state to close again, but urged all residents Oct. 23 to “stay home,” to wear a mask, and to avoid crowds.

Medical experts have told CNA that the celebration of Mass during the pandemic in the United States has been shown to be safe as long as safety guidelines are followed.

In August, doctors Thomas McGovern, Deacon Timothy Flanigan, and Paul Cieslak authored an article for Real Clear Science on Mass attendance and COVID-19. At that point, the doctors said, Catholic parishes had celebrated over a million public Masses in the United States since shelter-in-place orders were lifted.

At the time of their writing, “for Catholic churches following guidelines, no outbreaks of COVID-19 have been linked to church attendance.” Even in a few cases where asymptomatic infected individuals attended Mass, following the guidelines prevented outbreaks: maintaining distance, mask wearing, and washing hands.

“The few churches that have been reported as sources of COVID-19 outbreaks did not follow social distancing or require masks; they also promoted congregational singing,” the doctors stated.

The doctors said in their article that there is no evidence that church services are higher risk than similar activities when guidelines are followed.

In July priests in the archdiocese were warned they could lose the faculty to preach if they give homilies longer than five minutes.

Fr. Glennon Jones, archdiocesan vicar general, wrote in a July 31 memo to priests that the chancery had “received reports of some homilies going on for well over the 5-minute limit set by the Archbishop.”

“If such homilies continue, [Archbishop John Wester] will consider severer [sic] actions for subject clergy,” Fr. Jones wrote, “up to and including possible suspension of the faculty to preach.”

Lujan Grisham announced new coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, museums, and stores Oct. 20.

Retail businesses in the state will have to close by 10 pm daily, and state-operated museums and historical sites will be required to shut down completely, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

New Mexico recorded 827 new cases Oct. 21, a single-day record.

Public schools in the state have reported 264 COVID-19 cases in 157 schools, with 157 infected staff members and 97 infected students, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

Lujan Grisham had closed non-essential businesses March 24, and banned “mass gatherings” of five or more people in the state.

Churches were initially exempt from the ban, although all of New Mexico’s Catholic dioceses stopped public Masses by the end of March to help curb the spread of the virus.

On April 11, Lujan Grisham extended the ban on “mass gatherings” to include houses of worship.

On April 15, Bishop Peter Baldacchino of Las Cruces announced that he would resume public Masses, being the first US diocese to reopen public Masses. He allowed for Masses to be offered outdoors with attendees spaced more than six feet apart, or inside churches with fewer than five people present.

Mississippi asks US Supreme Court to solve circuit court split with 15 week abortion case

CNA Staff, Oct 23, 2020 / 02:01 pm (CNA).- The Mississippi Attorney General on Thursday urged the US Supreme Court to hear a case regarding the state’s ban on most abortions from 15 weeks into pregnancy, citing a circuit split over a question raised in the suit.

Lynn Fitch submitted a brief petitioning for writ of certiorari in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Oct. 22.

“The circuit split...continues to grow,” she wrote, over the question “whether the validity of a pre-viability law that protects women’s health, the dignity of unborn children, and the integrity of the medical profession and society should be analyzed under Casey’s ‘undue burden’ standard or Hellerstedt’s balancing of benefits and burdens.”

“This case remains an ideal vehicle to promptly resolve both that question and the first question presented—the contradictions in this Court’s decisions over use of ‘viability’ as a bright line for measuring pro-life legislation,” Fitch stated.

Fitch noted that in a recent case, a panel of the Fifth Circuit acknowledged that its decision conflicted with one reached by the Eighth Circuit, and that the Sixth Circuit has “reached the exact opposite conclusion as the Fifth Circuit panel majority.”

The circuit split arises from differences in interpretation of the Supreme Court’s June decision in June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo, which struck down Louisiana’s requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

In December 2019 Judge Patrick Higginbotham of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a district court ruling that blocked Mississippi’s 15 week abortion ban.

The law allows abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy when the mother’s life or a major bodily function is in danger, or when the unborn child has a severe abnormality and is not expected to be able to live outside the womb at full term. Exceptions are not granted for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Physicians who knowingly violate the law can lose their state medical license.

Defending the law, Mississippi’s attorneys have argued that it has an interest in protecting the life of the unborn, as well as maternal health. They pointed to an increased risk of complications for the mother when abortion is performed further into the pregnancy. They have also made a case that unborn babies are capable of feeling pain prior to viability.

Higginbotham wrote that “In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability. States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right but they may not ban abortions.”

In July, Governor Tate Reeves signed into law the Life Equality Act, banning abortion based on sex, race, or genetic abnormality.

Trump and Biden clash on immigration and coronavirus during final debate

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 23, 2020 / 01:30 pm (CNA).- Immigration and the coronavirus pandemic took center stage on Thursday’s final debate between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden, while issues like abortion and religious liberty were not up for discussion, as the candidates enter the final two weeks of the presidential campaign. 

The debate, hosted by Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, featured new rules designed to improve the flow of discussion. Because of COVID-19 concerns, the candidates were spread apart and had a plexiglass barrier in between them. 

The night started off with moderator Kristen Welker of NBC questioning the two candidates about how they would lead the country through the “next stage” of the pandemic. 

Trump defended his record, saying he “closed the greatest economy in the world” to fight the disease, and noted that the excess mortality rate was “way down” compared to other countries. He also said that a vaccine is “coming” and “ready,” and will be “announced within weeks.” 

When pressed, Trump said that there was “not a guarantee” on the timeline but that he thinks there is a “good chance” a vaccine will be announced “within a matter of weeks.” 

Biden attacked the president for not encouraging mask wearing earlier in the pandemic, and said that he had “no comprehensive plan” for tackling the virus, which has caused the deaths of more than 250,000 people in the country.

“What I would do is make sure we have everyone encouraged to wear a mask, all the time. I would make sure we move in the direction of rapid testing, investing in rapid testing. I would make sure that we set up national standards as to how to open up schools and open up businesses to be safe, and give them the wherewithal and financial resources to be able to do that,” said Biden. 

Biden said that a vaccine process must be “totally transparent” in order for Americans to be willing to actually take the vaccine. He also defended calling Trump “xenophobic” when the president restricted travel from China at the beginning of the pandemic, and then added that the president “did it late.” 

The former vice president said that while he would not immediately endorse another shutdown, he had not ruled out the possibility, should a community experience a high rate of cases. 

Trump, conversely, pressed for the increased opening of schools, and stated that “we’re not going to shut down.” 

Following the discussion of coronavirus, the debate shifted to national security and foreign policy, and then onto health care reform. 

Trump was questioned about the recent claim that more than 500 children separated at the border from their families could not be reunited as their parents could not be located. 

During the approximately two months that the administration enforced its “zero tolerance” policy, which included family separation, was in effect, about 3,000 children were separated from their parents, plus an additional 1,000 children who were separated from their parents during a pilot program of the policy in 2017.

Catholic leaders, both domestic and international, have repeatedly criticized the family separation policy. 

At the end of June 2018, the court ordered that the children be reunited with their families.

The president appeared to deflect the question, saying first that “Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels, and they’re brought here and it’s easy to use them to get into our country.” 

Trump said that he was “working” on a plan to reunite these children with their families, but said that this was difficult as “a lot of these kids come up without the parents” via a cartel or coyote. 

 A “coyote” is a slang term for a person paid to smuggle people into the United States. 

Biden objected to these claims, saying that “these 500 plus kids came with parents” and were separated from them at the border. He also rejected the idea that coyotes were responsible for bringing children across the border, saying that “their parents were with them.” 

Biden and Trump sparred on the topic of the now-infamous “cages” that temporarily housed children who were separated from their parents at the border. 

Trump noted that the “cages” were built during the Obama administration,during which time President Obama was referred to as the “deporter-in-chief” for the record-high number of deportations during his time in office. 

Biden countered that the policy of separating families made a “laughingstock” of the country, and said the failure to achieve immigration reform during his vice presidency was “a mistake” and that he would create a pathway to citizenship for “over 11 million undocumented people” within the first 100 days of his presidency. 

During exchanges on healthcare, Trump credited himself with “terminating” the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which he called “the worst part of Obamacare.” 

“Now [the ACA] is in court, because Obamacare is no good,” said Trump. “No matter how well you run it, it’s no good. What we’d like to do is terminate it.” 

The president said that if Obamacare were “terminated,” he would “come up with a brand new beautiful healthcare” policy that would continue to protect people with pre-existing conditions. 

Biden said that, if elected, he would “pass Obamacare with a public option.” He referred to this as “Bidencare.” This public option would cover people who qualify for Medicaid but “do not have the wherewithal...to get Medicaid.” 

Biden said that he would not eliminate private insurance.

Catholic leaders call for clarity on Pope Francis civil union remarks

CNA Staff, Oct 23, 2020 / 12:00 am (CNA).- Bishops and prominent Catholics have responded to a new documentary in which Pope Francis is featured calling for civil recognition of same-sex unions, calling for caution and telling Catholics to await clarity from the Vatican after the remarks caused confusion.

The pope’s comments were made in “Francesco,” a documentary on the life and ministry of Pope Francis, released Wednesday. The film made global headlines, because the it contains a scene in which Pope Francis is portrayed calling for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples.

In the film, the pope is shown saying that “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.” The apparent endorsement of civil recognition of same-sex couples by the pope garnered the widespread reaction.

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family,” the pope also was shown to say in the video, in a section subsequently shown to be heavily edited. “They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” the pope said, in reference to his approach to pastoral care.

The pope has often spoken of the need for pastoral closeness and love for people who identify as LGBT, and against family members, especially parents, ostracizing or rejecting them on account of their sexual orientation. The pope has also repeatedly said that marriage exists between one man and one woman.

Some activists and media reports have suggested that Pope Francis had changed Catholic teaching by his remarks.

The context and manner in which the film was shot, compiled and edited, have raised questions about what the pope said, the context in which he said it, what it means, and what the Church teaches about civil unions and marriage.

“Pope Francis’ remarks giving qualified support to civil unions of same–sex couples are not his first as pope,” said St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop Bernard Hebda on Wednesday.

“While affirming Church teaching that marriage can only be between one man and one woman, he along with others who defend traditional marriage, has shown openness to civil unions as a kind of middle way that would allow persons of the same sex in long-term relationships to have legal benefits without a civil redefinition of marriage itself.”

The archbishop said that “Church teaching on marriage is clear and irreformable,” but that “the conversation must continue about the best ways to reverence the dignity of those in same–sex relationships so that they are not subject to any unjust discrimination.”

Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh said that the comments in the documentary “reflect [the pope’s] pastoral approach to persons who may be on the peripheries of society,” and “in no way signal a departure from the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning marriage or homosexuality.”

“It speaks, rather, of a pastoral approach to these issues,” Zubik said.

“In essence, Pope Francis has not promoted change in the moral or sacramental teaching of the Church. He has simply called for all people to be treated with the dignity and love which is their due by being created in God’s image and likeness and being children of the Heavenly Father.”

A 2003 document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expressed opposition to civil unions for same-sex couples, saying that “respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.”

The film’s portrayal of a papal endorsement of same-sex unions did not change Church teaching, or alter the Church’s understanding of the nature of homosexual acts. But Francis’s apparent call for legal “cover” for same-sex unions would represent a shift in the prudential judgement of public policy options made by his predecessors.

Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth also responded to the film’s release, saying that “the Church is obliged to hand on faithfully what she has received from Christ. It is the mind of Christ that marriage is an indissoluble bond between one man and one woman. The Church preaches and acts upon this truth, regardless of the passing opinions of nations, states, or cultures.”

Noting that Pope Francis has repeatedly affirmed the Church’s unchanging position that marriage exists, and can only exist, between one man and one woman, Olson said that “comments recently recorded in the making of a documentary about Pope Francis regarding civil recognition of ‘unions’ between homosexual couples appear to have led some to the erroneous conclusion that the Church’s teaching on marriage has changed or is about to change.”
 
“It is a misunderstanding of rights to suggest or infer that legal arrangements of civil societies canconfer a status equivalent to marriage to couples who do not conform to God’s intention and design for marriage.”

Following the release of “Francesco”, some prominent Catholics highlighted their own past support for civil unions as a way of providing legal protections for couples of various kinds, without building a bridge towards civil recognition of same-sex marriage.

Ryan Anderson, senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, noted Wednesday that he and Princeton Professor Robert George had previously argued that civil unions would “neither introduce a rival ‘marriage-lite’ option, or treat same-sex unions as marriages.”

The Church previously opposed the recognition of civil unions, even those explicitly defined as distinct from marriage, because they could lead to eventual recognition of “same-sex marriage,” as they have done in countries like the U.K., and because they could have “the consequence of making it a model in present-day society,” and “also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity.”

Some have raised questions about the significance of the pope’s comments, given that many Western countries have already brought in laws recognizing same-sex civil unions and “same-sex marriage.” But Jesuit priest and LGBT campaigner Fr. James Martin said on Twitter that the pope’s comments are “a big deal.”

“For those who think the Pope's comments about same-sex civil unions are no big deal: Perhaps in the US or Western Europe. But in places like Poland, where some bishops are virulently anti-LGBT; or Uganda, where bishops side with laws criminalizing homosexuality, it's a big deal.”

Martin’s comments triggered a strong response from Eastern European and African Catholics, who suggested the Jesuit’s comments were a form of cultural colonialism.

“What a shame to see an American priest passing judgement on African bishops!” responded Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of Durban. “Why is it a shame? Because [Martin] doesn’t know the context.”

“In recent years, especially in [President] Obama’s time, enormous pressure was put on African leaders to introduce all the Western ‘isms’ as a condition for receiving aid,” the cardinal said.

“Legalizing of abortion and homosexuality were the foremost,” Napier said.

Federal judge: Colorado’s anti-coronavirus rules can’t single out churches

CNA Staff, Oct 22, 2020 / 10:56 pm (CNA).- A federal judge has said Colorado officials may not enforce anti-coronavirus limits against two churches, saying that the state rules lack sufficient exemptions for the free exercise of religion.

The regulations treat churches more strictly than similar gatherings, which are required to observe social distancing but not observe occupational limits as well, the judge said, adding that the rules fail to protect congregations that may wish to remove facial coverings for religious reasons.

“With each exception Colorado makes for secular institutions, the failure to make the same exemption for houses of worship becomes increasingly problematic,” U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Domenico said in his Oct. 15 order. “Colorado’s failure to offer a compelling reason why houses of worship are subject to greater restrictions than warehouses, schools, and restaurants violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion.”

The judge’s order exempts the two churches from mask requirements and occupancy limits that they believe bar their religious practice. However, they still must follow sanitation requirements, maintain social distancing, and prohibit shaking hands. The temporary injunction is in place while the case is heard in court.

“(T)he Constitution does not allow the State to tell a congregation how large it can be when comparable secular gatherings are not so limited, or to tell a congregation that its reason for wishing to remove facial coverings is less important than a restaurant’s or spa’s,” Domenico said.

The plaintiffs are two Protestant pastors and their Denver-area churches: Bob Enyart of Denver Bible Church in Wheat Ridge and Joey Rhoads of Community Baptist Church in Brighton. In August they filed a complaint against federal and state officials charging that the state health orders were vague and infringed on religious freedom.

“The lawsuit calls both the federal government and Colorado leaders into account for their violations of the right to free exercise of religion, among other abuses of power, primarily resulting from Governor Jared Polis’ COVID-19 related executive orders,” said Thomas More Society special counsel Rebecca Messall, who with co-counsel Brad Bergford represented the complainants.

The plaintiffs did not demonstrate a likelihood of success on most of their claims, but their First Amendment free exercise claim against state officials will likely succeed, the judge said. State officials may not enforce executive orders or public health orders against the plaintiffs “to the extent those orders treat houses of worship differently from comparable secular institutions.”

Officials may not enforce additional numerical occupancy requirements against the two churches, nor enforce the “requirement that congregants wear face masks at all times during worship services,” said Domenico.

The State of Colorado has filed an appeal.

“Absent some sort of bad faith, a law that is otherwise neutral and generally applicable does not suddenly become unconstitutional simply because it contains limited exceptions for certain secular activities but not religious activities,” said the motion from the office of the Colorado attorney general.

“Nothing in the state defendants’ public health orders reveals discrimination or bigotry targeted at religion,” the motion continued. “If anything, Colorado’s orders treat religious organizations more favorably than comparable organizations that are nonreligious.”

The state's motion argued that Domenico took scientific evidence out of context, the Denver Post reports.

Enyart, one of the pastors, appeared skeptical of the coronavirus response.

“It’s like ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’,” he told CBS4 News before the judge issued the order. “If it was a true emergency, people would be inclined to ignore government orders because of government’s overreach. There’s so much evidence coming out that the lockdown is hurting people.”

Enyart, who also hosts a radio show, has sometimes been a controversial figure. He has vocally criticized and even conducted protests of other Christian groups, pro-life groups and politicians he believes to be insufficiently opposed to abortion.

According to the pastors' complaint, compliance with state rules, executive orders and public health rules violates the plaintiffs' “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The rules “substantially burden” free exercise of religion.

The rules “restrict or prevent religious speech and the expression of personal communication in how closely plaintiff pastors can be to persons in their congregations, and in how closely congregants can be to each other, to meet, pray, talk, stand, sit, walk, sing, pray, embrace, shake hands, smile or facially express their thoughts, opinions and emotions verbally and through facial expression.”

“Moreover, plaintiffs are restricted in holding baptisms, communion services, marriage ceremonies and laying of hands,” the complaint continued. It said the two churches conduct religious services and fellowship activities for congregations larger than 50 people. The capacity limits on houses of worship are “more severe” than those that apply to similar settings, it said.

“The state also allows a variety of exceptions to its facial-covering requirement where it recognizes that removing a mask is necessary to carry out a particular activity,” said the complaint.

Domenico said the court does not doubt the good faith decisions of state officials' efforts “to balance the benefits of more public interaction against the added risk that inheres in it.”

While the Constitution “doesn't kneecap a state's pandemic response,” he said, “the existence of a crisis does not mean that the inalienable rights recognized in the Constitution become unenforceable.”

Although the religious must comply with neutral, generally applicable restrictions, he said, “the First Amendment does not allow government officials, whether in the executive or judicial branch, to treat religious worship as any less critical or essential than other human endeavors. Nor does it allow the government to determine what is a necessary part of a house of worship’s religious exercise.”

Most Colorado outbreaks have taken place at workplaces, schools and businesses, not churches, Domenico said, citing state data. The largest outbreaks have been at colleges and prisons. Less than 2% of the 900 active or resolved outbreaks in Colorado have taken place at religious facilities.

Other religious groups' challenges to Colorado limits on public gatherings have not prevailed in court.

In September, U.S. District Judge Christine M. Arguello rejected the Colorado Springs-area Andrew Wommack Ministries' challenge to coronavirus limits, saying public health was at risk. Health officials said a novel coronavirus outbreak at a July Bible conference hosted by the organization led to 63 cases and one death, Colorado Public Radio said.

 

EWTN's Warsaw: 2020 election about competing visions for America

CNA Staff, Oct 22, 2020 / 10:00 pm (CNA).-  

The head of the EWTN media network said ahead of Election Day that the 2020 presidential election offers, beyond a choice between individuals, a philosophical choice between different views of American life.

“One campaign has built itself on the notion that America is a great country, with much to offer. It embraces a vision that sees religious practice and belief in God as central to the country’s private and public life,” EWTN board chairman and CEO Michael Warsaw wrote in an Oct. 17 publisher’s note in the National Catholic Register.

Central to that campaign’s vision, Warsaw said, is a perception that faith is a critical aspect of America’s foundational principles.

“Under this view of America, Christians and other people of faith are seen as a large part of the solution to the challenges our country faces, just as they have been central to so many positive movements in American history — from the right-to-life movement of the past four decades to many of the great causes for justice and rights of the 19th, 20th and the 21st centuries,” Warsaw added.

“This view does not hold that everything in America is perfect, or that every founder of our country or leader who espoused this view is a saint, but it believes in the greatness of the country and the idea that the tools exist within our Constitution and system of government to fix those problems that arise without having to completely change our system of laws and government. This is the classical view of America.”

Warsaw’s essay did not directly identify political candidates, but it did draw a sharp distinction between political outlooks.

The other philosophical choice open to voters, he wrote, is a “progressive view,” which perceives that “America has much to atone for and little to be proud of.” In such a vision, religion is perceived as discriminatory, abortion is recognized as a right while religious liberty and freedom of conscience are diminished, Warsaw said.

“The redefinition of sexual values and of the family itself are central to this worldview,” he added, and while America is criticized as imperialist, “a blind eye is turned to the real imperialism of communist countries.”

“Religion must submit to politics and the state in this view. Period.”

With fewer than two weeks until Election Day, voters in many states have already begun early voting, and a record turnout of mail-in ballots is expected across the country this year, driven largely by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Both President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden have made a push for Catholic votes ahead of the election, with Trump championing his record on abortion and religious liberty, and Biden citing his own Catholic roots.

A recent EWTN News / Real Clear Polling survey found that Biden enjoys a lead among likely Catholics voters, although that lead narrows considerably in several swing states thought to be critical to the election.

U.S. Catholic bishops have largely emphasized the abortion in voting guidance ahead of the election, and have identified ending legal protection for abortion as the “preeminent priority” of Catholic political activity.

Warsaw’s essay lamented that in a progressive political standpoint, “values — and vocabulary — from yesterday are constantly supplanted by new values and new language. Their goal is not static but evolving, yet undeniably in an anti-Christian direction. Politicians that supported the Defense of Marriage Act, or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or the Hyde Amendment a few decades ago now find these all to be repugnant. For advocates of this understanding of America, values are not unchanging, but utterly changeable depending on political expediency and cultural trends.“

“This — more than the candidates themselves — is what is on the ballot. You are casting your vote this year for a long-term vision of America, not for a person. Keep that in mind: Pray, and vote — for the future of your country.”

EWTN Global Catholic Network is the largest religious media network in the world. EWTN’s 11 global TV channels are broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to over 300 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories.

EWTN platforms also include radio services transmitted through SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 domestic and international AM & FM radio affiliates; a worldwide shortwave radio service; one of the largest Catholic websites in the U.S.; electronic and print news services, including Catholic News Agency, The National Catholic Register newspaper, and several global news wire services; as well as EWTN Publishing, its book publishing division.

 

 

Knights of Columbus announce novena ahead of founder’s beatification

CNA Staff, Oct 22, 2020 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- The Knights of Columbus has launched a nine-day novena to prepare for the beatification of the organization's founder, Fr. Michael McGivney, at the end of the month.

The novena starts October 22 and continues through October 30, the eve of Fr. McGivney’s beatification.

During the novena, participants will reflect on different aspects of McGivney’s life, including his pastoral leadership, charity toward the poor, and support for family life and the domestic church.

Each day of the novena will include prayers for McGivney’s intercession and reflections on virtues to imitate. It will also include a prayer for McGivney’s canonization, which will require one more approved miracle.

“We are praying that many graces will come through the beatification of Father McGivney, that by his example of virtue we may be inspired to put our faith into action for the good of our families, parishes and communities,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson in a press release.

“We will also pray for a miracle that will lead to the canonization of Father McGivney.”

McGivney will be beatified October 31 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, Connecticut.

The priest founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882. Today it is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization, with nearly two million members in more than a dozen countries. Over the past year, the Knights of Columbus have volunteered over 77 million service hours and donated $187 million in charitable funds.

Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1852, McGivney played a critical role in the growth of the Church in the United States in the latter part of the 19th century. After his ordination in Baltimore in 1877, he served a largely Irish-American and immigrant community in New Haven.

Amid an anti-Catholic climate, he established the Knights to provide spiritual aid to Catholic men and financial help for families that had lost their breadwinner.

McGivney’s sainthood cause officially opened in 1997 in the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI declared the American-born priest a Venerable Servant of God in recognition of his life of heroic virtue.

Pope Francis approved McGivney’s first miracle in May. The miracle involved an unborn child in the United States who was healed in utero of a life-threatening condition in 2015 after his family prayed to McGivney.

Following his beatification, McGivney’s cause will require one more authenticated miracle before he can be considered for canonization.

He would not be the first member of the Knights of Columbus to be canonized. A group of six Mexican members of the organization were martyred during the Cristero War of 1926-29 and its aftermath.

The six are St. Luis Batis, St. Rodrigo Aguilar, St. Miguel de la Mora, St. Pedro de Jesús Maldonado, St. José María Robles, and St. Mateo Correa.

 

 

Planned Parenthood getting more government funding, despite defunding efforts

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 22, 2020 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- Recent annual reports show that federal funding to Planned Parenthood has increased, despite efforts by the Trump administration to eliminate federal funding for the abortion provider over the last four years. One healthcare funding expert told CNA that without congressional action, new avenues of federal funding for abortion providers could soon be made available by pro-choice policy makers. 

While campaigning for president, Donald Trump made a series of commitments to pro-lifers in September 2016 that included “defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions.”

Planned Parenthood is barred by law from using federal funds—largely in the form of Medicaid reimbursements for services—to cover elective abortions. However, pro-life critics of the organization claim that federal dollars still allow the abortion provider to free up other resources for abortions.

Planned Parenthood’s overall revenue has gone up in recent years, from nearly $1.3 billion in 2014-15 to more than $1.6 billion in 2017-18 and again in 2018-19, largely through increased government funding and donations from the private sector.

“Private contributions and bequests” have increased from $353.5 million in FY 2015 to its peak of $630.8 million in FY 2018, before dipping slightly to $591.3 million for FY 2019.

Federal funding of Planned Parenthood affiliates increased from the 2018 fiscal year to the 2019 fiscal year, and has gone up overall since FY 2015.

In its annual report for the 2018-19 fiscal year, Planned Parenthood said its affiliates received more than $616 million in taxpayer dollars—a 9% increase from the $563.8 million total the year before, and a 13% increase from two years before.

Planned Parenthood affiliates mainly receive taxpayer dollars from “health services reimbursements” through Medicaid and Title X programs, Melanie Israel, a research associate in the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, told CNA, although since 2019 abortion providers have been ineligible for Title X funding. 

The Trump administration has the authority to strip some federal funding from abortion providers, Israel told CNA, and has already done so through changes to the Title X family planning program.

In 2019, the Trump administration effectively boxed out Planned Parenthood from Title X funding by updating the requirements for recipients. Under the new rule, recipients of Title X grants must not be co-located with abortion clinics and cannot refer for abortions—requirements that Planned Parenthood clinics refused to abide by.

Rather than comply with the regulations, Planned Parenthood withdrew from the program in August of 2019. Since that act occurred after the end of the fiscal year, the forfeited revenue would not necessarily be reflected in the numbers in its latest annual report.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, for his part, has said he would reinstate the Obama administration’s Title X policy, allowing clinics who refer for abortions to once again receive Title X grants.

Planned Parenthood affiliates in some states are also the beneficiaries of state funding.

For example, Planned Parenthood of Northern California reported receiving more than $26.5 million from the state’s family planning office alone, in the 2020 fiscal year. It also reported more than $14.3 million in revenues from Medicare and the state’s Medi-Cal program, and more than $1.3 million in government grants.

Planned Parenthood affiliates also received as much as $150 million in emergency PPP loans earlier this year during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic—despite congressional stipulations that were intended to bar Planned Parenthood from the loans.

To limit federal funding of Planned Parenthood, the government can approve waivers for states to effectively block abortion providers from Medicaid funding, Israel said. 

The Trump administration has allowed states to refuse Medicaid funding of Planned Parenthood, reversing a 2016 Obama administration rule that said states could not do so simply on the basis of a recipient being an abortion provider.

But Israel said that in her view, Congress also needs to use its authority to strip federal funding from abortions in other areas through a broad ban on abortion funding—something it has not done yet.

Federal funding of elective abortions through Medicaid reimbursements is prohibited by the Hyde Amendment, a policy enacted into law regularly since 1976 as an attachment to annual appropriations bills for the Department of Health and Human Services.

The amendment is not permanent law, and Democrats have signaled their intent to reverse the policy— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently promised to not include Hyde protections in spending bills next year.

Some Congressmen have attempted to make Hyde protections more durable. Legislation authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) in 2017 and again in 2019 would make the Hyde Amendment permanent, and extend its protections to appropriations bills for all federal agencies. It would also forbid abortions at federal facilities, and block federally-subsidized health plans under the Affordable Care Act from covering abortions.

Members of Congress have also tried passing laws to fully defund Planned Parenthood. The House in 2017 barred Medicaid reimbursements at Planned Parenthood clinics in its major health care bill, but the legislation died in the Senate. The Senate in 2018 failed to pass an amendment by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to defund the organization.

Amid the debate of how to defund Planned Parenthood, the number of abortions performed by the organization has gone up, even as the national abortion rate has declined, Israel said.

In the 2018 fiscal year, Planned Parenthood affiliates collectively reported performing 345,672 abortions—the organization’s highest number of abortions on record, she said. 

Meanwhile, the organization’s clients for contraception, prenatal services, and cancer screenings have all declined between 2006 and 2018, as documented in a recent Heritage report.

Statues of Christ, Mary toppled outside parishes in New York, Arizona

CNA Staff, Oct 22, 2020 / 04:15 pm (CNA).- Several religious statues— including two of Mary and one of Christ— outside Catholic churches were damaged in overnight attacks earlier this week, the latest of numerous acts of vandalism on Catholic churches and art this year in the US.

Police in New York City are investigating a vandalism attack against a statue of Mary outside Resurrection Catholic Church in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Marine Park, which is believed to have occurred overnight Sunday.

A parishioner who approached the statue to pray Monday morning noticed the statue’s left hand was cut off, and discovered a large crack in the statue’s head, ABC7 reported.

The church does not currently have a security camera system, but told ABC7 that they plan to install one. The suspect or suspects are still at large.

The damage in New York is at least the third documented act of vandalism against a statue of Mary in the city this year.

In July, at Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in Queens, an individual approached a 100-year-old statue of Mary shortly after 3 a.m. painted the word “IDOL” down its length.

On Sept. 11 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Solace, located in Coney Island, a man climbed over a fence, pulled a statue of Mary out of the ground, and threw the statue onto the sidewalk. The base of the statue was damaged by the vandalism.

According to the NYPD, the man is facing charges of criminal mischief. The NYPD is offering a reward of $2,500 for any information about his identity.

Likely the same evening as the vandalism against the Brooklyn statue, vandals knocked down a statue of Mary and a statue of Christ outside St. Germaine Catholic Church in Prescott Valley, Arizona, about 90 miles north of Phoenix.

The assailants also destroyed a bed of flowers and support poles for recently planted trees surrounding the Christ statue.

According to the Prescott Valley PD, the estimated cost to repair or replace the statue of Mary is $1,500. The statue of Christ did not sustain any damage, the police said Oct. 20.

Prescott Valley PD is offering $300 to anyone who has information that leads to an arrest in the case, local media reported.

Numerous attacks on Catholic art and churches in the US have been documented throughout 2020— including three separate desecrations of Marian statues in the same weekend in July.

A statue of the Virgin Mary was beheaded in Gary, Indiana on the evening of July 2 or morning of July 3.

On July 11, a Florida man was arrested after he reportedly admitted to crashing a minivan into Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Ocala, Florida, and then setting it on fire while parishioners were inside.

Also on July 11, a 249-year-old California mission founded by St. Junipero Serra burned in a fire being investigated as arson.

The same day, a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was attacked and beheaded at a parish in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Three days later, vandals beheaded a statue of Christ outside Good Shepherd Catholic Church, in Southwest Miami-Dade County, the same day that a statue of the Blessed Virgin at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Colorado Springs was tagged with red paint in an act of vandalism.

At Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Bloomingburg, New York, a monument to unborn children killed by abortion was knocked over the weekend of July 18.

In late August, vandals beheaded a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Holy Family Parish in Citrus Heights, California. A statue of the Ten Commandments, placed at the parish “in dedication to all those who have lost their life through abortion,” was grafittied with a swastika.

In September, a man went on an hours-long vandalism spree at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Tioga, Louisiana, breaking at least six windows, beating several metal doors, and breaking numerous statues around the parish grounds.

The same month, vandals toppled a statue of St. Therese outside St. Therese of the Child Jesus Catholic Parish in Midvale, Utah.

Later in September, a man was charged for smashing a 90-year-old statue of Christ inside St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso, Texas.

Also in September, a man wielded a baseball bat on the grounds of a Catholic seminary in Texas and damaged a crucifix and several doors, but caused no harm to seminary students.

Throughout the summer, numerous depictions of St. Junipero Serra, mostly in California, have been forcibly pulled down by mobs of protestors.

A crowd of about 100 people tore down another St. Junípero Serra statue in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park the evening of June 19. Rioters pulled down a statue of St. Junipero Serra in Sacramento on July 4.

A Oct. 12 protest at Mission San Rafael Arcangel began peacefully but then turned violent, as participants defaced the Junipero Serra statue of the saint with red paint before dragging it to the ground with nylon straps and ropes.

Junipero Serra among 'inappropriate' San Francisco school names, district committee says

Denver Newsroom, Oct 22, 2020 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- A San Francisco public school district committee this month recommended that 44 schools with “inappropriate” names be renamed, with Junipero Serra Elementary School near the top of the list.

The district’s superintendent appointed the School Names Advisory Committee in 2018 to assess which schools, if any, ought to be renamed.

Among the committee’s recommendations for schools that ought to change their names were schools named for George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Rooselvelt, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Muir, and Francis Scott Key.

St. Junipero Serra, an 18th-century Franciscan priest and missionary, has been criticized by some activists as a symbol of colonialism and of the abuses that many Native Americans suffered after contact with Europeans. However, historians say Serra protested abuses and sought to fight colonial oppression.

Among the criteria that the committee reportedly used to asses school names were those of "anyone directly involved in the colonization of people, slave owners or participants in enslavement, perpetrators of genocide or slavery, those who exploit workers/people, those who directly oppressed or abused women, children, queer or transgender people, those connected to any human rights or environmental abuse [and] those who are known racists and/or white supremacists and/or espoused racist beliefs."

The panel has requested schools share alternate names by Dec. 18, with the school board voting on proposed new names in January or February of 2021, the Chronicle reported.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed last week criticized the advisory committee’s decision to recommend dozens of school name changes in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement to local media, the school district said the schools are “not required or mandated to participate” in the renaming process.

CNA attempted to contact the principal of Junipero Serra Elementary to ask if the school plans to submit new name recommendations to the district, but did not receive a response.

Serra’s defenders say that he was actually an advocate for native people, noting an episode of his life when he drafted a 33-point “bill of rights” for the Native Americans living in the mission settlements and walking all the way from California to Mexico City to present it to the viceroy.

While many Native peoples did suffer horrific abuse, an archaeologist told CNA earlier this year that activists tend to conflate the abuses the Natives suffered long after Serra’s death with the period when Serra was alive and building the missions.

The saint lends his name to numerous buildings, schools, streets, and parks in California. Activists have led several successful efforts in recent years to expunge Serra’s name from some of them, including at Stanford University.

In 2018, Stanford renamed Serra Mall, a major thoroughfare through campus, “Jane Stanford Way.” The Serra House building and Serra House dorm in 2019 were renamed after Carolyn Lewis Attneave and Sally Ride respectively.

There is another Junipero Serra Elementary school near San Francisco in a different school district, whose name also has come under recent scrutiny. Members of the South San Francisco Unified School District Board of Trustees proposed a change to that elementary school’s name in June. The name has so far remained as it is.

Among the schools recommended for a name change in San Francisco is Diane Feinstein Elementary, named after a longtime and current Democratic Senator.

Abortion-advocacy groups called for Feinstein to step down as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee after the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, claiming that Feinstein, who is pro-choice and has publicly criticized Barrett’s Catholic faith, lent an “appearance of credibility” to proceedings that were “widely out of step with the American people.”