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Jesuit Superiors in Africa and Madagascar condemn the killing of school children in Cameroon

The Jesuits say they are shocked and outraged at the killing of innocent school children, by gunmen, in the troubled city of Kumba, southwest Cameroon.

Pope Francis brings nine people closer to sainthood

Pope Francis approves the promulgation of decrees which bring four women and five men a step closer to sainthood.

Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles

Reading 1 EPH 2:19-22

Brothers and sisters:
You are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God, 
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm PS 19:2-3, 4-5

R. (5a) Their message goes out through all the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.

 

 

Alleluia 

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the glorious company of Apostles praise you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 6:12-16

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.
When day came, he called his disciples to himself,
and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew,
James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew,
Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus,
Simon who was called a Zealot,
and Judas the son of James,
and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Pope: ‘we never pray alone: Jesus prays with us’

Pope Francis continues his catechesis on prayer inviting the faithful to persevere in prayer in every moment of their lives, even in the most difficult, and in those in which we feel the burden of our sins.

Louisiana voters will decide whether to amend constitution to exclude 'right to abortion'

Denver Newsroom, Oct 27, 2020 / 04:21 pm (CNA).- Voters in Louisiana will decide Nov. 3 on a constitutional amendment, authored by a pro-life Democrat, which would prevent Louisiana’s courts finding a “right to abortion,” or to public abortion funding, in the state’s constitution.

Under Amendment 1, also known as the “Love Life Amendment,” the Louisiana constitution would be updated to state that “nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

State Senator Katrina Jackson, a pro-life Democrat, authored the amendment when she was a state representative, along with dozens of co-sponsors from both parties.

The purpose of the amendment, Jackson wrote in an op-ed last week, is to ensure that the state’s courts cannot circumvent the state’s existing pro-life laws by finding a right to abortion in the state’s constitution.

This situation has already occured in 13 other states, most recently in Kansas, despite the fact, Jackson notes, that “the word abortion can’t be found in the Kansas Constitution.”

“It’s important to understand that Amendment 1 is not a ban on abortion. It simply keeps abortion policy in the hands of our legislators rather than state judges,” Jackson wrote.

Louisiana already has a “trigger law” that would ban abortion in the state— with some exceptions to save the life of the mother— should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Our body of pro-life laws ensure that women are empowered with the truth about their pregnancy prior to an abortion, that minors seeking an abortion have parental consent, and that babies born alive following a botched abortion receive immediate medical care. Our law also makes sure that not a dollar of your state tax dollars fund abortion. Yet these laws and others are at risk unless we pass Amendment 1,” Jackson said.

Kristen Day, Executive Director of Democrats For Life of America, noted that over a dozen states have introduced proposals to write explicitly a “right to abortion” into their state constitutions.

In May 2019, Vermont’s legislature advanced Proposal 5, which would write a right to abortion into the state’s constitution. Before this can happen, it must be passed once again by the 2021-2022 legislature, and be approved by voters in the November 2022 election.

If the measure passes, Vermont would become the first state to list abortion as a constitutional right.

Louisiana's proposal would do the opposite, and would prevent the state's courts from finding a right to abortion or abortion funding in the future, Day said.

"Louisiana's a very pro-life state— nobody wants public funding of abortion, so if the legislature flipped and somebody wanted to try to fund abortion with state money, it would be clear that that is not constitutional,” she told CNA.

“Large majorities of people oppose public funding of abortion. And so to have those protections in there is important," she said.

"We're very hopeful that it will pass, and send a strong message to the rest of the country.”

Sophie Trist, a recent college graduate and activist with Democrats for Life, wrote in an Oct. 22 op-ed in The Advocate, a Baton Rouge daily, that Amendment 1 is consistent with Democratic principles, and that it will protect the will of Louisianans, at least 63% of whom identify as pro-life.

“A so-called right gained at the expense of another living human being is no right at all. I'm voting yes because killing another human being, no matter their circumstances, is never social justice,” she wrote.

Trist, who is blind, wrote that an abortion supporter once told her that she should favor abortion because it prevents disabled people, like her, from being born into suffering. “Sadly, I'm all too aware of how society often views those of us who are less developed, physically weaker, or less able-bodied, as less human,” she wrote.

“I had always respected a pro-life ethic before, but this encounter made me even more passionately pro-life because I know that every human life, including mine and those of unborn children in the womb, is worth living and worth protecting. The fact of the matter is that I love my life and am grateful to have been born,” she wrote.

Jackson also authored a bipartisan Louisiana law requiring that abortion clinics be held to the same standards as surgical centers, which the Supreme Court threw out in June.

Four justices ruled in June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo that Louisiana’s requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at a local hospital would have made it “impossible” for abortion clinics to comply, without offering a significant health benefit for women. Justice Stephen Breyer authored the opinion, and Chief Justice John Roberts concurred to tip the court’s balance 5-4 against Louisiana’s law.

The Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, as Jackson’s law was known, received widespread support from both parties in the state legislature and was signed into law by then-governor Bobby Jindal (R) in 2014.

In Kansas, an effort during February to place a referendum on the Kansas ballot clarifying that abortion is not a constitutional right fell four votes short of the support needed in the House of Representatives.

The push for the referendum was instigated in 2019 after the Kansas Supreme Court blocked a 2015 law banning dilation-and-evacuation abortions, which are the most common procedure for second-trimester abortions and use suction devices and other equipment to dismember the fetus and remove it from the mother’s womb.

As part of the ruling, the Kansas Supreme Court determined for the first time that provisions of the state constitution dating back to 1859 extends to a “natural right of personal autonomy” regarding abortion.

The federal Hyde Amendment bars federal funds for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Presidential candidate Joe Biden has said that he no longer supports the Hyde Amendment and would repeal it if he is elected.

At least 16 states currently use their own funds to pay for additional abortions outside of those conditions.

New Orleans archdiocese seeks laicization for all clergy credibly accused of sex abuse

Denver Newsroom, Oct 27, 2020 / 02:45 pm (CNA).-  

While allegations against two New Orleans-area priests have again raised questions about the Church’s response to clergy misconduct, the Archdiocese of New Orleans has confirmed that for the past two years it has been seeking to laicize clergy who have been removed from ministry for credible reports of sexual abuse.

“In the Archdiocese of New Orleans, very soon after the publication of the 2018 Clergy Abuse Report, conversations began in an effort to seek the laicization of those living clergy that had been removed from ministry for abuse of a minor and this is in process,” Sarah McDonald, communications director at the New Orleans archdiocese, told CNA Oct. 26.

“This is a highly technical canonical process and clergy have canonical rights that must be respected.”

On Oct. 1. the archdiocese announced the removal from ministry of Father Pat Wattingy, who on that day self-reported sexually abusing a minor in 2013. The archdiocese said the priest admitted the abuse after undergoing psychological treatment and going on a spiritual retreat this summer, the New Orleans CBS affiliate WWL-TV reports.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office investigated and then issued a warrant for the priest’s arrest on four counts of molestation of a juvenile, alleged to have taken place between December 2013 and December 2015. He was arrested as a fugitive at his home in West Point, Georgia on Oct. 22 and extradited to Louisiana.

“Mr. Wattigny stated that he knew he had warrants in Louisiana but that he did not know that we would catch him,” said the West Point Police Department's incident report on the arrest.

The priest faces additional controversy concerning allegations that he sent inappropriate text messages to a minor at a Catholic high school where he was recently chaplain.

In Pearl River on Sept. 30, 37-year-old priest Father Travis Clark, recently the pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, has been charged with obscenity after he was discovered filming himself in sex acts with two women on the altar of the parish church.

A local resident told police they noticed the lights were on in the church and looked through the windows, discovering the three people. One of the women is reported to be a self-avowed satanist. Archbishop Aymond has since performed a penitential rite required for continued use of the church for sacramental purposes.

Both Clark and Wattigny have been asked to “seek laicization immediately,” McDonald told CNA. If the priests do not request to be laicized by the Vatican, each could be laicized as the result of a formal canonical trial.

“The removal of Clark and Wattigny from priestly ministry marks the first time Archbishop Aymond as Archbishop of New Orleans has had to remove an active clergyman from ministry for abuse or scandal.” McDonald said. Aymond became New Orleans’ archbishop in August 2009.

While priests who are found by a canonical process to have committed an act of serious sexual abuse can be laicized, or removed from the clerical state, other priests who have been credibly accused of abuse but not found guilty in such a process remain clerics, even if they will not be returned to priestly ministry.

Under canon law, a priest or deacon has the right to housing and minimal financial support if he has not been formally laicized, even if he is not eligible for priestly ministry. Dioceses have sometimes been criticized for payments to priests accused of abuse but not laicized, even while the diocese is canonically obliged to make some provision for them.

In addition to those laicized after a canonical penal process, priests can also be laicized at the discretion of the Vatican if they request it, or if the diocesan bishop makes such a request under limited circumstances established by the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy in 2009.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans did not offer specifics about its efforts to laicize priests accused of abuse.

At least seven diocesan priests on the archdiocese’s list of 72 credibly accused clergy are still living, according to the New Orleans Advocate. This list does not include accused religious clergy who are under their religious orders’ jurisdictions.

In the New Orleans archdiocese, benefits to accused priests had included retirement benefits, until a federal judge overseeing its Chapter 11 bankruptcy said that the archdiocese could only pay for health insurance.

Archbishop Aymond held a day of prayer, fasting and atonement on Friday, Oct. 23 and encouraged the Catholic faithful to participate, especially those feeling wounded.

“We know that it’s been a very challenging time in our archdiocese, for a number of reasons, especially because of the news we have received recently about two of our priests who have not fulfilled their vocation,” he said in an Oct. 19 video at the archdiocese’s YouTube channel.

“It is important that we come together as a community of faith and pray for the wounds of our Church: personal wounds and the wounds that so many are feeling at this time, with a sense of disappointment and betrayal,” he said.

“I’m asking you specifically to enter into fasting if you wish to, to enter into prayer, and we are providing for you a Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which helps us to get into the heart of Jesus, to give him our suffering, and to ask him for the healing and peace that he alone can give,” said the archbishop.

“Let us also pray for all the victims of abuse. They need our prayers and support as we reach out to them,” he said.

On Oct. 16, Aymond met with all the archdiocese’s priests regarding the scandal caused by the two priests.

The Council of Deans and the Presbyteral Council, both composed of leading priests in the archdiocese, wrote an Oct. 16 letter on behalf of the 335 priests of the archdiocese. While acknowledging that some have questioned his leadership, the letter voiced the clergy’s support for the archbishop.

The letter gave an account of the meeting, reporting an “open and honest dialogue” with the archbishop followed by time together in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, then a collective renewal of their ordination promises by the archbishop and the clergy together.

“He exhorted all of us to pray regularly for victims of sexual abuse. At the end of his remarks, all of us present stood in unanimous support of Archbishop Aymond,” said the letter, which the archdiocese carried on its website.

“We emphatically support Archbishop Aymond and his leadership of our local church,” the priests’ letter continued. “Archbishop Aymond is a dedicated, faithful, and holy priest of Jesus Christ. He has always faithfully served the people of God throughout his priesthood.”

“While the archbishop did not create the problems of sexual abuse, he has always courageously addressed the issue,” said their letter. They characterized Aymond’s decision to publish a list of credibly accused clergy as a “bold step.” In their view, the archbishop has acted quickly to any new allegations

“While the last few years have been difficult, we believe that his leadership is helping to shed light on the darkness of the past, to heal past wounds, and to renew the Church in New Orleans,” said the letter.

“Although a small number of priests have betrayed us and you, we commit ourselves and our lives wholeheartedly to the mission of Jesus Christ made present in the Church,” said the priests. “Be assured that the Church cannot and will not tolerate any sexual abuse or misconduct on the part of any cleric.”

Before his arrest on an obscenity charge and removal from ministry, Father Clark had been named to fill Wattigny’s role as chaplain at John Paul II High School in Slidell, Louisiana. Wattigny had resigned from the faculty in July.

The details of Father Wattigny’s recent misconduct involving texting are still in dispute.

On Oct. 2, Aymond told the principal of John Paul II High School that Wattigny allegedly sent inappropriate texts to a male student.

Although the student’s parents and attorney first alerted the archdiocese in February, school administrators were allegedly not told, and Wattigny was allowed to remain in ministry at the school until the end of the academic year.

According to a letter written by Aymond to parents of the school, reported by the Advocate, the texts did not contain “sexual references or innuendo” but still violated the archdiocesan policies about communication with youth.

The priest was reportedly admonished by archdiocesan officials to stop sending texts but permitted to remain in ministry at the school. He remained chaplain until he sent additional texts to at least one student and was reportedly sent by the archdiocese for a psychological evaluation.

Bill Arata, an attorney for the student, has said the priest’s texts had the aim of grooming the teen. Among other things, the priest asked the student repeatedly when he would turn 18. The priest texted the boy late at night, the attorney said, and his texts contained suggestive remarks. The attorney said he was told in June that the priest was being sent for a psychological evaluation. He said sending the priest for an evaluation confirms that the archdiocese knew the texts were not appropriate.

In an Oct. 9 statement, Aymond said Wattigny would never again serve in public ministry, and defended an archdiocesan decision not to remove Wattigny from the school when reports that he was sending inappropriate text messages first arose in February.

 

 

 

'One of our own': Catholic leaders welcome Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

CNA Staff, Oct 27, 2020 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- Catholic bishops, academics, and policy experts hailed the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on October 26. Barrett was confirmed Monday evening in a senate vote that mostly divided along party lines. 

Barrett is now the sixth practicing Catholic justice at the Supreme court, joining Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Brett Kavanaugh. In addition, Barrett will join Sotomayor as the only two Catholic female Supreme Court Justices in U.S. history.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans hailed Barrett, a Louisiana native, as “one of our own” on Monday evening. “We pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to lead her and guide her in her service to our country.”

Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee, also added his congratulations to Barrett via Twitter, as did Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas.

Barrett’s arrival at the Supreme Court was also welcomed by her former colleagues at the University of Notre Dame, where she was both a law student and professor for several years.

“On behalf of the University of Notre Dame, I congratulate Amy Coney Barrett on her confirmation today by the United States Senate as a justice of the United States Supreme Court,” Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the university said in a statement. 

“Recognized by experts from across the spectrum of judicial philosophies as a superb legal scholar and judge, she is an esteemed colleague and a teacher revered by her students. Justice Barrett becomes the first alumna of Notre Dame Law School and the first Notre Dame faculty member to be so honored,” Jenkins said. 

“We join her family and friends in celebrating this momentous achievement, and we assure Justice Barrett and all her colleagues on the nation’s highest court of our continued prayers in their work of administering justice and upholding the Constitution.”

Jenkins’ sentiment was echoed by G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean and a professor of law at Notre Dame Law school. Cole said he was “immensely proud of our alumna, colleague, and friend on this momentous occasion.” 

“For more than two decades, we have been blessed by her brilliant scholarship, her devoted teaching, and her thoughtful, open-minded approach to legal questions,” said Cole. He referred to Barrett as not only a “brilliant” scholar, but also as someone who is “exemplary” kind and generous. 

“While we will miss her presence on our campus and in our community, we look forward to witnessing these qualities as she serves on our nation’s highest court,” said Cole. 

Born in New Orleans, Barrett attended the University of Notre Dame Law School before clerking for D.C. Circuit Court Judge Laurence Silberman and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. She then entered private practice, returned to Notre Dame Law School to teach classes in 2002, and became a professor in 2010.

During her confirmation process, Barrett became a target for criticism by both media commentators and Democratic lawmakers, with multiple stories focusing on her religious beliefs and family.

Princeton professor Dr. Robert George, referencing the controversy over Barrett’s reported affiliation with the charismatic group People of Praise, posted a picture of himself and the now-justice on his Twitter account following her confirmation. 

“With my favorite Handmaiden of the Law,” he said. 

Brian Burch, the president of CatholicVote, said that Barrett’s confirmation “especially energized” Catholics in the United States. 

Justice Barrett clearly demonstrated she has the qualities, knowledge, and skill needed to be a fair and independent Justice for every American. Senators that voted to confirm Justice Barrett are to be commended for focusing on her eminent qualifications and commitment to fairness and the rule of law, rather than the ugly anti-Catholic attacks that threatened to tarnish this process,” he said.  

Dr. Grazie Christie, a policy advisor for The Catholic Association, called Barrett’s confirmation “great news for all Americans who prefer a fair and independent judiciary to an activist one.”

“Judge Barrett has demonstrated that she will equally apply the law to everyone who comes before her and faithfully interpret the Constitution as written. Her profound knowledge of the law is only matched by her exemplary character,” she said. 

Christie called Barrett a “role model for women and girls who aspire to reach the highest levels of accomplishment.” 

Mississippi abortion decision due as Amy Coney Barrett joins Supreme Court

CNA Staff, Oct 27, 2020 / 10:05 am (CNA).- As new Justice Amy Coney Barrett takes her seat at the Supreme Court, one of the first decisions on her desk will be the court’s consideration of whether to review Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.

Last Thursday, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch asked the Supreme Court to review the case of the state’s law banning most abortions after 15 weeks. The law had been blocked by a district court in 2018, and an appeals court judge upheld that ruling in December, 2019. Mississippi then appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

The case has been distributed at the Supreme Court for consideration; as soon as Friday, Oct. 30, justices could decide whether to accept the case for review.

The Senate confirmed Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday, and she was then sworn in to the Court by Justice Clarence Thomas at the White House. A former law professor at the University of Notre Dame, Barrett is a Catholic mother of seven children, including two adopted children from Haiti. She served on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals after being confirmed by the Senate in 2017.

During her 2020 confirmation hearings, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee asked her to opine on the Court’s abortion rulings, including on Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Barrett declined to do so, repeatedly affirming that it would be improper for her to speculate on cases that could appear before her as a future justice.

However, Barrett said at her nomination ceremony in September that her judicial philosophy is that “a judge must apply the law as written.” She has also said she believes in applying relevant Supreme Court precedent to cases, where it exists.

In her 2017 written responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire, as she was being considered for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett wrote that “[w]here precedent applies, it controls.”

“If precedent does not settle an issue, I would interpret the Constitution with reference to its text, history, and structure,” she said.

On one abortion-related case at the Seventh Circuit, Barrett sided with the court majority against pro-lifers, citing Supreme Court precedent.

The court ruled in favor of the city of Chicago’s “buffer zone” rule that forbade pro-life sidewalk counselors from approaching within eight feet of abortion facilities. The majority opinion in the case cited Supreme Court precedent in Hill v. Colorado in siding with the city’s rule.

Mississippi’s law allows for abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy only when the mother’s life or major bodily function is endangered, or when the baby has a severe abnormality and would not be able to survive outside the womb at full term.

Fifth Circuit court Judge Patrick Higginbotham ruled in December of 2019 that states such as Mississippi could regulate abortions pre-viability, but could not pose an “undue burden” on abortion or ban abortions pre-viability.

In recent years, the Supreme Court has ruled against two state abortion laws in Texas and Louisiana that required abortion facilities to adopt the health standards of ambulatory surgical centers.

In June, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court majority to strike down Louisiana’s abortion law. He cited Supreme Court precedent, in the court’s 2016 ruling against Texas’ law—despite saying that the 2016 case was “wrongly decided.”

Pope Francis prays for victims of Cameroon school shooting

At the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis prays for peace in conflict-ridden parts of Cameroon, in the wake of a school shooting in Kumba which claimed the lives of several school children.

Concern for Covid-19 spread in Syria

The continued spread of COVID-19 in Syria is causing concern, as the virus has emerged in refugee camps in the Idlib region.