Browsing News Entries

South Sudan: Include religious leaders in national peace initiative, Bishops urge President Kiir.

This week, Catholic Bishops in South Sudan paid a solidarity visit to President Salva Kiir Mayardit.

Pope: Cardinal Vanhoye preached the Gospel with generosity

Pope Francis sent a message of condolence on the death of Jesuit Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, who died 29 July in Rome, aged 98. He had been the oldest member of the College of Cardinals. He was created Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, who called him “a great exegete.”

Mother Angelica's monastery elects new abbess, asks for 'continued prayers'

The newly elected Abbess and Council of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Ala., July 2021. Credit: Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration.

Birmingham, Ala., Jul 30, 2021 / 17:01 pm (CNA).

Mother Mary Paschal has been elected the newest abbess of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Alabama, filling the role once held by EWTN foundress Mother Angelica.

 

“It is with overwhelming gratitude to Our Eucharistic Lord for His great goodness, and to you who have assisted us in countless ways these past years, that we ask for your continued prayers,” the monastery said in the announcement of Mother Mary Paschal’s election. “Please pray for each of us at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, that the Holy Spirit may overshadow and guide us as we begin this new chapter and continue anew in this venture of faith and adoration.”

 

Alongside the new abbess, Sister Mary Jacinta was elected vicar and three other nuns were elected councilors on July 29. Bishop Steven Raica of Birmingham was present to witness the election.

 

The monastery is an autonomous Poor Clares of the Perpetual Adoration monastery. The cloistered nuns elect their abbess and council from among their sisters every three years.

 

The monastery was founded by Mother Angelica and several other founding sisters from Sancta Clara Monastery in Canton, Ohio. It was dedicated May 20, 1962. Our Lady of the Angels will mark its feast day Aug. 2.

 

“With our Holy Father Francis, Holy Mother Clare and all our Franciscan brothers and sisters in heaven, we return great thanks for our vocation and call, to live according to the Gospel, in continual thanksgiving and adoration to Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament,” the monastery said.

 

Mother Angelica launched Eternal Word Television Network Aug. 15, 1981, as a new missionary endeavor. Her media apostolate has grown to become the largest Catholic media network in the world.

 

The monastery was originally at EWTN headquarters in Irondale. Mother Angelica moved it to Hanceville.

 

She died at the monastery in Hanceville March 27, 2016.

 

The monastery is adjacent to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, which was dedicated in 1999.

 

Some nuns from the monastery have been sent to their mother monastery in Ohio and to the Poor Clares’ cradle monastery in Troyes, France, the monastery website said. The community has made new foundations in Tonopah, Ariz., and San Antonio.

‘Abortion is not health care’: Members of Congress speak out against proposed abortion billing rule

lazyllama/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jul 30, 2021 / 16:02 pm (CNA).

More than 25 Republican senators wrote to the Biden administration this week warning that a proposed rule would allow federal dollars to subsidize abortion coverage.

“Abortion is not health care, and American taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize it,” the senators said in the letter. The members included Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus. 

Under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, insurance providers of “qualified health plans” [QHP] on the exchanges had to collect separate premium payments for elective abortion coverage, to ensure federal subsidies did not pay for abortions. The rule was meant to implement the Hyde Amendment, federal policy since 1976 which prohibits funding of abortions in Medicaid.

However, a 2014 Government Accountability Office report found that many insurers were not properly separating billing of abortion coverage from coverage of other drugs and procedures in the plans. 

In 2019, the Trump administration required health plans under the Affordable Care Act to have separate billing and separate accounts for elective abortion coverage premiums. Three federal courts halted the rule from going into effect.

The proposed rule-change of the Biden administration would allow abortion coverage to be billed together with other items, in insurance plans on exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The new proposed rule, published on July 1, would require only a single bill and payment of federally-covered services, including abortion coverage. 

Some pro-life leaders have warned for years of the possibility of federal dollars subsidizing abortion coverage in these plans, if the billing is not done separately.

“The Biden administration’s proposed rule would prop the door wide open for Obamacare insurance plans to use taxpayer funds to cover abortions—a move that violates federal law,” said Matt Bowman, senior counsel with the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, on Wednesday.  

“In construing ‘separate’ to mean ‘together,’ the Proposed Rule would illegally allow insurance companies to collect combined payments for elective abortion coverage, rather than separate payments as the law requires,” the senators said. 

The senators noted that this rule would “undermine consumer transparency” and could potentially result in consumers “pay(ing) for abortions in violation of their consciences or religious beliefs.”

The senators accused the rule of being an attempt to “increase taxpayer funding for abortion on demand, to the financial benefit of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry.” 

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest chain of abortion providers. 

“Separate billing requirements for healthcare plans are the best way to ensure that popular laws preventing tax-funded elective abortion are respected,” Bowman said.

The other senators who signed the July 28 letter were: Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), John Thune (R-S.D.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.).

 

Thank God ahead of time: What Blessed Solanus Casey teaches about a spirituality of gratitude

Blessed Solanus Casey. Photo courtesy of the Capuchin Franciscan Order of St. Joseph in Detroit.

Detroit, Mich., Jul 30, 2021 / 15:19 pm (CNA).

Blessed Solanus Casey's childhood was not easy. He contracted diphtheria that permanently damaged his voice. Casey’s family also struggled economically since he was one of sixteen children. Despite these struggles, Casey’s large Irish Catholic family instilled in him a love for the Catholic faith and a devotion to the rosary.

After bad harvests, Casey left home at 17 to find work. He took on many jobs, including a lumberjack, a prison guard, and a streetcar conductor, during which he witnessed a murder, causing him to rethink his life. 

Instead of sinking into despair at the sight of such an awful scene, Casey decided to give his life in service to others as a priest. He struggled academically and he joined the Capuchins, where he was ordained a simplex priest, meaning he could say Mass, but could not preach publicly or hear confessions. 

While others might feel it beneath their dignity to serve as a doorman, Solanus Casey accepted his position humbly and gratefully.  Solanus Casey tended to those he met at the door of the monastery with gentleness. Fr. Carlo Calloni, the general postulator for the Order of Friars Minor-Capuchin, said, “There was no one, after visiting Solanus Casey at the door of the monastery, who returned with nothing. Everyone received something, spiritual or material.” Casey realized that everything he had came from God, so he directed everything he had in praise of God  through love of neighbor. 

Casey viewed gratitude as an essential human quality. He said, “Gratitude is the first sign of a thinking, rational creature; ingratitude leads to so many breaks with God and our neighbor.” 

Gratitude gave him a cheerfulness and joy that ran through everything he did, even though he suffered illnesses. For example, Solanus Casey loved to play violin, but was not good at it. So as not to disturb the other friars, he would play his violin in front of the Blessed Sacrament, out of joy and gratitude. 

Solanus Casey’s gratitude to God and faith in him manifested itself in many miracles, including one with ice cream. According to Fr. Tom Nguyen, OFM Cap., a friar in Detroit, Casey put two ice cream cones in his desk drawer to save them for later. When another brother returned from an appointment, Casey pulled out not just two ice cream cones, but three, all frozen still and ready to eat. 

Casey’s mantra “Thank God ahead of time” shone in his advice to people. Fr. Joseph Mary Elder, OFM Cap. recounted a story. In 1940, the Fanning parents from Dearborn, Michigan, came to Fr. Solanus Casey worried about the health of their daughter Elizabeth, who was sick with leukemia. Fr. Solanus urged them to thank God for all the good he had done and was sure to do for them and their daughter. A few days later, Elizabeth was completely healed from her leukemia.

Catholic Charities in Texas criticizes state order restricting immigration work

August 17, 2017 - A volunteer at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen helps a Central American refugee family take a bus to go stay with U.S. family / Vic Hinterlang/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Jul 30, 2021 / 14:02 pm (CNA).

Catholic entities helping migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border responded this week after the Texas governor restricted who could transport migrants following their release from federal custody. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an order restricting transportation of migrants to law enforcement personnel only. While the order will not prevent law enforcement officers from transporting migrants, it will affect volunteers’ ability to give migrants rides to and from shelters and quarantine sites.

Abbott, who is Catholic, cited pandemic-related concerns as the basis for his order.

Catholic Charities Rio Grande Valley said in response that their precautions against COVID-19 are rigorous, and that the new order will make it harder for people of good will to help migrants “who have been given permission to be in the United States.”

The order, which Abbott issued July 28, mandates that “no person, other than a federal, state, or local law-enforcement official, shall provide ground transportation to a group of migrants who have been detained by [Customs and Border Protection] for crossing the border illegally.” 

Abbott ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to stop or impound “any vehicle upon reasonable suspicion of such violation and reroute such vehicles back to its point of origin or a port of entry.”

Abbott said he issued the order out of concern for the coronavirus pandemic. He wrote that “busloads of migrants, an unknown number of whom are infected with COVID-l9, are being transported to communities across the State of Texas.”

Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities Rio Grande Valley in McAllen, said the new order gave her “great sadness,” and urged its reversal. 

Located on the Mexican-U.S. border, McAllen is a hub for immigrants, and concerns have been expressed by locals about the transient population of asylum seekers and other immigrants in the town. 

Federal law enforcement officers drop migrants off at Catholic Charities’ downtown McAllen facility, where they are tested for COVID-19. The respite center, which is staffed by volunteers, mainly offers food, showers, and basic necessities; it has changed locations several times since 2014.

Pimentel noted that migrants who test positive for COVID-19, as well as their families, are placed in local hotels at Catholic Charities’ expense to recover in isolation.

“All this has been done to protect our communities from COVID while simultaneously protecting and caring for the [migrant] family, who needs assistance,” she wrote. 

“At no time have the COVID positive immigrant families been walking around exposing others in the community. They are kept in isolation until they test negative.”

In his order, Abbott specifically mentioned a recent incident in La Joya, Texas. Local police had been called in response to a migrant family who were eating in a local restaurant and who “appeared to be sick,” MyRGV News reported. The migrant family told the police they were quarantining at a nearby hotel after testing positive for COVID-19. 

Pimentel called the La Joya incident “an isolated case” that has led to “a great deal of misinformation.”

Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville on Wednesday contested the governor’s characterization of the migrants helped by local Catholic Charities as “illegal.”

“Catholic Charities RGV assists families who are referred to us by Border Patrol, a Federal entity,” he noted on Twitter.

“How can the Governor’s order identify them as ‘illegal’ and how does looking for them not constitute racial profiling of persons legally in the US?” he asked.

Governor Abbott has declined to aid the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in its effort to house thousands of migrant children amid a surge at the border. 

In a letter to HHS director Xavier Becerra, Abbott cited hastily-erected emergency federal facilities as justification for withdrawing state support of the federal effort to house migrant children. Abbott has also pledged to continue building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Confidential data obtained by the Associated Press shows the number of migrant children in government custody more than doubled from April to May of 2021. In April, border authorities encountered 18,890 unaccompanied minors - an all-time high. 

Abbott plans to revoke the licenses of any shelter in the state that houses migrant children beginning Aug. 31, Politico reported. The May 31 declaration is set to strip the licenses of at least six Catholic Charities agencies, including CCRGV, meaning they may have to close. 

If the state’s Catholic Charities agencies lose their license and are forced to close, two of the state’s bishops have said that hundreds of Texas-born children will be transferred to the state’s foster care system which is already stressed. 

In a video published on April 6, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones - known for falsely claiming the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax - alleged that a man driving a car with migrant children outside a Catholic Charities humanitarian center in McAllen, Texas, was “smuggling” the children. 

In response, Catholic Charities Rio Grande Valley said the video was “inaccurate and unauthorized,” stating the video in fact shows “families and children peacefully entering the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen.”

Knights of Columbus fundraise to replace vandalized statues at NYC parish

Remains of the statues vandalized at Our Lady of Mercy parish in New York City, July17, 2021. Credit: Diocese of Brooklyn.

New York City, N.Y., Jul 30, 2021 / 11:33 am (CNA).

A Knights of Columbus fundraiser for the replacement of vandalized statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Therese of Lisieux at a New York City church has raised over $21,000 as of Friday, July 30. 

The statues were smashed July 17 at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Queens by a woman who was seen on security cameras. The vandalism is being investigated by the New York City Police Department Hate Crimes Unit and the 112th Precinct.

“Will you please consider helping us restore these proud symbols of our parish?” Knight of Columbus Brian Allen wrote on a GoFundMe page for the effort.

The two statues had been on display at the parish since 1937. 

The fundraiser, launched July 21, is being run by the Our lady of Mercy Knights of Columbus Council and Our Lady of Mercy Academy. 

The Our Lady of Mercy Council said that artisans inspecting the damage have determined that the statues are beyond repair and will have to be replaced. 

The parish told CNA July 30 that they are collecting the information and estimates they need in order to find the best way to put the new statues in, and how to keep them protected.

The night before the statues were smashed, a perpetrator, who has not been identified, toppled both the statues over, the parish said. 

The night of the vandalism, pastor Fr. Frank Schwarz was on his phone with police in response to the incident. The parish said at 3:30 in the morning Monsignor John McGuirl heard the vandalism taking place and yelled at the perpetrator out the window to stop. 

The perpetrator “told him in no uncertain terms to shut up.” At that point, the perpetrator was already fleeing the scene and when police arrived, they were gone. 

The Diocese of Brooklyn said July 17 that “the statues were dragged 180 feet across 70th Avenue, where they were smashed with a hammer. Earlier this week on Wednesday evening, both of these statues were toppled over but were not damaged. The individual involved in both acts of vandalism is believed to be the same person.”

The parish told CNA on Friday that parishioners were devastated by the vandalism. While waiting for new statues to come to the church, a parishioner had taken the initiative to put a small statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary statue in place of the vandalized statues.

“It is heartbreaking, but sadly it is becoming more and more common these days. I pray that this recent rash of attacks against Catholic churches and all houses of worship will end, and religious tolerance may become more a part of our society,” Fr. Schwarz said in the diocesan statement.

Two weeks after Pope Francis' Traditional Latin Mass restrictions, US bishops continue to respond

Thoom/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jul 30, 2021 / 10:15 am (CNA).

Two weeks after Pope Francis issued his motu proprio restricting the use of traditional liturgies, bishops throughout the United States have continued to address the impact the letter will have on their respective dioceses.

Many bishops, such as Bishop Michael Fisher of Buffalo, have chosen to grant their priests temporary permission to continue celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass while they themselves take time to study the document, Traditiones Custodes.

“At this time,” Fisher wrote in his July 21 statement, “I grant temporary permission for those priests competent in celebrating the Eucharist according to the 1962 Missal to continue to do so at the times and places that, as of July 16, 2021, have publicly scheduled these Masses.”

In other episcopal sees, bishops have allowed Traditional Latin Masses to continue at some parishes, while prohibiting them or restricting them at other parish churches. 

In the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, Archbishop Joseph Naumann told priests in a July 27 statement that he had already allowed two locations - St. John Vianney Latin Mass Community in Maple Hill and the St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Parish in Mission Woods - to continue offering the Traditional Latin Mass. The two communities are served by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a community dedicated to the Traditional Latin Mass. 

At other parish churches, however, Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal cannot be regularly scheduled on Sundays and holy days, he said. Proposals to celebrate the extraordinary form require discussion with him or his delegate “well in advance,” Naumann said. 

For priests of the archdiocese who “at times” wish to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, they “may continue to do so for the present,” Archbishop Naumann said, adding that they must contact him by Oct. 1, 2021 for continued permission to do so.

The papal document, issued on July 16 and effective immediately, recognized the “exclusive competence” of individual bishops to authorize the use of the 1962 Roman Missal in their respective dioceses.

One of the provisions of the papal document - Article 3, § 2 - says that bishops should designate a location for Latin Mass communities that is not a “parochial church.” Some U.S. bishops have already issued canonical dispensations from this provision for parish churches already offering the Traditional Latin Mass.

Bishop Carl Kemme of the Diocese of Wichita joined the dioceses of San Bernardino, Springfield in Illinois, Biloxi, Toledo, Knoxville, and San Angelo in granting priests a canonical dispensation from Art. 3, § 2 of the motu proprio.

Elsewhere, some dioceses have communicated internally with their priests on Traditiones custodes, but have not yet issued public statements. 

In the Diocese of Austin, Fr. Daniel Liu, rector of St. Mary Cathedral, posted on the Facebook page of the St. Joseph Latin Mass Society that Bishop Joe Vásquez allowed his parish to continue offering the extraordinary form of the Mass. The bishop gave his approval “as he continues to gather information and discern how the motu proprio Traditionis custodes will be applied,” Fr. Liu wrote.

The St. Joseph Latin Mass Society, meanwhile, told CNA that Vasquez has allowed the extraordinary form to continue throughout the whole diocese.

CNA reached out to the dioceses of Green Bay and Santa Rosa to confirm that their respective bishops had issued guidance on the Holy Father’s motu proprio. 

The Diocese of Green Bay told CNA that Bishop David Ricken had given private guidance to priests on the motu proprio, and the Santa Rosa diocese said that Bishop Robert Vasa “may have” communicated with priests. Neither diocese would share that guidance publicly with CNA. 

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington D.C., who had allowed celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass to continue while he reviewed Traditionis custodes, this week withdrew his permission for the celebration of a solemn pontifical Mass that was to be offered Aug. 14 in D.C.

The Mass, scheduled to be at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, was organized by the Paulus Institute, a group dedicated to promoting the sacred liturgy. 

Donna Bethell of the Paulus Institute said in a statement to CNA on Tuesday that Cardinal Gregory "cited Traditionis custodes as the reason” for his decision, “without further specificity."

US bishops condemn abortion funding in House-passed spending bill

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Washington D.C., Jul 30, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Leading U.S. bishops on Thursday opposed the House passage of appropriations bills that fund abortions and exclude some existing conscience protections in health care.

“Funding the destruction of innocent unborn human lives, and forcing people to kill in violation of their consciences, are grave abuses of human rights,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas on Thursday in a joint statement. Cardinal Dolan is the chair of the U.S. bishops’ religious liberty committee, while Archbishop Naumann chairs the bishops’ pro-life committee.

On Thursday afternoon, the U.S. House passed a package of appropriations bills that would provide funding of various government agencies and programs, by a vote of 219-208. No Democrats voted against the legislation, and no Republicans voted for it. Four members did not vote.

Leadership omitted a number of customary pro-life provisions from the bills, allowing for funding of elective abortions and abortion coverage without including provisions that protect some health care workers and groups with conscientious objections to abortion.

Notably missing from the legislation was the Hyde Amendment, first passed by Congress in 1976. The policy, normally enacted as part of federal spending bills, prohibits federal funding of elective abortions in Medicaid.

“Without it, millions of poor women in desperate circumstances will make the irrevocable decision to take the government up on its offer to end the life of their child,” Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Naumann stated of the amendment.

The bills also did not include the Weldon, Kemp-Kasten, Dornan, and Smith amendments, a series of policies similar to the Hyde amendment which restrict funding of abortion or abortion coverage in other areas of spending.

In particular, pro-life leaders recognized the Weldon Amendment as an important means of enforcing conscience protections for health care workers and groups opposed to abortion. The policy places conditions on funding of federal programs and state and local governments; the funded entities cannot discriminate against individuals or organizations for refusing to perform, participate in, pay for, or cover abortions.

“The injustice in HR 4502 extends to removing conscience protections and exemptions for healthcare providers who believe abortion is wrong, or whose faith drives them to serve and heal lives, instead of taking them,” the bishops stated on Thursday.

The current Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, was in 2020 found to be in violation of the Weldon Amendment by the Trump administration while he was still attorney general of California. Becerra had defended California’s mandate that employers provide abortion coverage in employee health plans; the mandate extended to a group of Catholic religious, the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit.

The spending bills do contain good provisions, the bishops said on Thursday, but their funding of abortions is inexcusable.

“To be certain, this bill includes provisions that help vulnerable people, including pregnant moms. As we have said before, ‘being “right” in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life,’” they stated.

Pro-life leaders also warned that the appropriations bills would coerce health care providers on the matter of abortion. The legislation forbids Medicare Advantage funding of health care providers and institutions that refuse to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortions –if the HHS Secretary denies them participation in the program for that reason.

In the bill’s section on the Title X federal family planning program, it requires clinics receiving Title X funds to provide pregnant women with information on abortion, as well as information on other options such as prenatal care and adoption. Under the bill, Title X recipients must refer for abortions upon request.

Earlier in the week, the House passed an appropriations bill for the State Department and international programs that allows direct funding of international abortions and pro-abortion groups.

It would permanently repeal the Mexico City Policy, executive policy that forbids funding of international pro-abortion NGOs in U.S. global health assistance.

German bishops appeal for Madagascar, plagued by drought, hunger

A new UN report has singled out Madagascar as one of the world's two newest "highest alert" hunger hotspots.