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15-year Courage staffer says apostolate 'helped me to become the man I am today'

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 9:00pm
Angelo / Courage International/YouTube

Washington D.C., Jun 24, 2021 / 19:00 pm (CNA).

A 25-year member of the Courage International apostolate says the ministry formed him into the man he is today. 

Angelo, who attended his first Courage conference in 1995, said he found his way to the group through the suffering of his own experience while living a gay lifestyle in New York City and Hollywood, in his video testimony published Thursday on YouTube.

The Courage apostolate aims to help people with same-sex attraction practice their Catholic faith and live according to Church teaching. It was founded in New York by Father John F. Harvey, OSFS in 1980 at the request of then-archbishop of New York, Cardinal Terence Cooke. 

Now under current executive director, Fr. Philip Bochanski, Angelo has worked at Courage International as a staff member for 15 years. 

Each member and chaplain of Courage, Angelo said, “has helped me to become the man I am today.”

Angelo said he first noticed an innocent “fascination with men” from a young age. After he graduated high school, he was drawn to hanging around other men who were acting on same-sex attraction, because it made him feel more comfortable with himself; he noted he always had an internal moral struggle. 

Angelo ultimately came to the conclusion that if he was going to enter into the gay lifestyle, it would be best if he went as far away as he could. 

“It was starting to get too close to home and I just thought ‘I gotta get out of here,’” he said. Angelo then left for Hollywood, California. 

Angelo spent about 13 years in California and lived a promiscuous life with “various partners.”  During his time there, he said he experimented with “a good amount” of recreational drugs as well. 

Then, he said, “things got dark.”

For months, Angelo felt as if he were having a nervous breakdown; he knew he needed God. 

“I thought I was going mad,” he said. Angelo spoke with a psychologist, but also reached out to his brother who was a priest at the time. 

“He was the one who mentioned Courage,” Angelo said. “I didn’t hear that name in quite some time.” Angelo had previously known of the apostolate because his sister worked for the past executive director, Fr. John Harvey. 

“I knew about Courage, but I didn’t want to know about it for a very long time,” Angelo said. 

In the days leading up to the conference, Angelo had a profound ongoing conversion. He said he experienced the “gift of tears” at the 1995 Courage conference in the Bronx, New York.

He returned to the Catholic Church and remains close with friends he made at the Courage conference. He said he has been tempted at times to return to his former lifestyle, but credits the grace of God and his privilege of serving others for his stability.

Angelo said that he was hearing God’s voice at the time of his struggle as a younger man, but chose not to listen. He would tell his younger self to “be open and receptive” to God’s voice and trusted people’s voices.

Lubbock’s Catholic cathedral finds $250k missing, FBI finds embezzlement suspect in Colombia

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 7:00pm
Cathedral of Christ the King, Lubbock, Texas / Diocese of Lubbock (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Denver Newsroom, Jun 24, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

A man who allegedly stole more than $250,000 from Lubbock’s Christ the King Cathedral has been located in Colombia, and U.S. officials are seeking his return. 

The suspect managed the cathedral’s donations and its Venmo and PayPal accounts. The cathedral rector was not implicated in the theft but resigned after its discovery.

Nathan Allen Webb, a cathedral parishioner, had assumed responsibilities at the cathedral that included managing donations and paying bills, in August 2019, according to Everything Lubbock. In March 2021, a lawyer for the Diocese of Lubbock “reported that Webb was engaged in a fraud scheme to embezzle money” from the cathedral, the FBI criminal complaint said.

Webb faces charges of wire fraud. Federal officials have asked the Colombian government to detain him through INTERPOL.

“Webb was embezzling thousands of dollars each month by making unauthorized transfers of money from (Christ the King’s) Venmo account to his personal Venmo account,” according to the FBI criminal complaint.

During at least part of this time, Webb was in South America.

In March, Father John Ohlig, rector of Christ the King Cathedral - as well as the parish finance committee - reportedly discovered funds were missing from the cathedral’s bank account and reported this to the diocese, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

“The FBI was notified immediately,” the Lubbock diocese said in a June 23 statement. “The parish and the diocese assisted the FBI in a thorough investigation since that time. The Diocese of Lubbock did not reveal the theft to preserve the integrity of the investigation.”

“Father Ohlig is in no way implicated in the theft of the funds,” said the diocese.

According to the FBI complaint, Fr. Ohlig confronted Webb on March 3. Evidence suggests that Webb closed his PayPal account on the same day.

An arrest warrant was issued for Webb on June 10. Webb’s father had assured the FBI that he would fly to Florida and submit himself for arrest. Though he was scheduled to fly from Cartagena, Columbia to Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 14, he did not board the plane.

Prosecutors have taken all steps to have Webb detained.

Two days after Webb's scheduled flight, he checked into a hotel in Pereira, Colombia. He was arrested for a visa overstay. Colombian officials planned to deport him but he tested positive for COVID-19, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports.

On June 10, Ohlig submitted his resignation as rector to Bishop Robert M. Coerver. In his resignation letter, the priest said: “I simply believe it is best for the administration of Christ the King Cathedral Parish and its entities to be handled by a different person as the faith community tries to move forward from this unfortunate incident.”

The priest is available for reassignment within the diocese. His new assignment and the appointment of a new cathedral rector will be announced soon, the diocese said.

The diocese and the cathedral are working with a third-party finance firm “to continue a thorough examination of the parish financial records and to assist in constructing enhanced accounting procedures.”

“Changes in office management have also been made,” the Lubbock diocese said.

The Lubbock diocese serves over 136,000 Catholics in 61 parishes across 25 counties of west Texas, the diocese’s website says. It was established in 1983. Catholics make up about 25% of the population in the diocese’s territory, which has some 530,000 residents.


After ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is dismissed, USCCB urges acceptance of migrants

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 3:30pm
Members of the migrant caravan take temporary shelter in a stadium in Mexico City on their way to the United States border, Nov. 8, 2018. / David Ramos/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 24, 2021 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

The U.S. bishops’ conference on Thursday emphasized the need to welcome immigrants after the Supreme Court resolved a challenge to the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

“Going forward, we must work as a nation to welcome the newcomer and respond to those in need with Christ-like compassion,” stated Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chair of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, on Thursday.

Bishop Dorsonville issued the statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Mayorkas v. Innovation Law Lab, a challenge to the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols.

The protocols required non-Mexican asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border to remain in Mexico while their requests were adjudicated in immigration court. Advocates argued that the policy, termed the “Remain in Mexico” policy, subjected immigrants with legitimate asylum claims to long periods of waiting in poor conditions.

The Trump administration implemented the protocols in January 2019. While they first applied to asylum-seekers at the San Ysidro border crossing, the policy was since expanded to include entries across the entire U.S.-Mexico border. Asylum seekers would receive a notice to appear in immigration court and could re-enter the U.S. for that court date; to stay in the U.S., they had to prove a fear of persecution or torture in Mexico.

Unaccompanied child migrants and those with known physical or mental health problems were exempted from the policy, among others.

Both a federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Trump administration; the Ninth Circuit court held that the Department of Homeland Security drafted the rule “without notice-and-comment rulemaking.”

The Biden administration repealed the policy on June 1, 2021. Following that decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a lower court’s ruling in the case was “moot,” and dismissed the case.

“We welcome the final resolution of this case,” Bishop Dorsonville said, while adding that the ruling “should not be seen as legal vindication” of the Migrant Protection Protocols, “which remains contrary to our laws and morals.”

He also called for an end to “the misuse of Title 42 to turn away vulnerable asylum seekers,” as well as actions “addressing the root causes of migration, and reforming our bogged down immigration system.”

“It is possible to do these things while respecting the rule of law; we need only commit ourselves to the task,” he said.

The Biden administration has ordered a review of Title 42, the policy closing entry to asylum-seekers on the U.S.-Mexico border due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration has not ended the policy, however.

Axios has reported that the White House is considering lifting the policy at the end of July. On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that “when it comes to Title 42, there's been no change.”

Jesuit priest responds to statement of pro-abortion Catholic members of Congress

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 2:40pm
Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), one of the signers of the "Statement of Principles" of Catholic House Democrats / ev radin/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 24, 2021 / 12:40 pm (CNA).

A Jesuit priest and radio host on Thursday critiqued a recent statement by Catholic House Democrats, who had asked not to be denied Communion for their pro-abortion policy stances.

In a column published Thursday in the National Catholic Register, Fr. Robert McTeigue, SJ, host and producer of the radio show “The Catholic Current,” argued that appeals to “conscience” and the “common good” by pro-abortion Catholic members of Congress were faulty.

Key to this debate, he said, was a discussion of the U.S. bishops last week on “Eucharistic consistency,” the Church’s teaching on worthiness to receive Communion. At their annual spring meeting, held virtually this year, the bishops voted decisively to approve the drafting of a teaching document on the Eucharist.

Included in a proposed outline of the document was a subsection on Eucharistic consistency; the bishops’ doctrine committee, which proposed drafting the document, has said it would also include a “special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness to the faith” and uphold Church teaching in public life.

“What the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops debated last week, and what the advocates of the Statement hold, touch upon human dignity and divine sovereignty.  There really is a truly Catholic way of getting this right, and no one can afford to get this wrong,” Fr. McTeigue wrote.

Fr. McTeigue is a priest in the Eastern Province of the Society of Jesus. His radio show airs through The Station of the Cross radio network and on the iCatholicRadio app. He is also a member of the National Ethics Board of the Catholic Medical Association.

Last week, 60 House Democrats published a “Statement of Principles” during the meeting of the U.S. bishops, asking not to be denied Communion because of their stances on abortion. While the bishops discussed worthiness to receive Communion at their meeting, they voted simply to begin drafting a document on the Eucharist that would include a subsection on Eucharistic consistency. They did not vote on any national policy of denying Communion.

The Catholic members last Friday stated their commitment to a “living Catholic tradition,” the common good, and the “primacy of conscience,” while asking that politicians not be denied Communion because of support for “a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion.”

Fr. McTeigue responded to their statement in his column.

Citing the members’ professed commitment to the “common good,” he warned against a “utilitarian” view of the common good, and said that abortion can never be a part of the common good.

“All of our striving — and all of our individual, communal, public and private actions — ought to facilitate virtue and holiness in this life so that we may enjoy beatitude in the next,” he wrote. “Properly understood, the common good cannot possibly tolerate, much less advocate abortion.”

He quoted the members’ appeal to conscience: “In all these issues, we seek the Church's guidance and assistance but believe also in the primacy of conscience.” 

In response, Fr. McTeigue wrote, “A careful placing of the word ‘but’ in the statement above makes the loophole a six-lane highway aimed away from the Church. “

“The work of conscience is primarily the work of reason,” he said, and is supposed to operate prior to emotion and in accord with Church teaching.

“Reason (rightly exercised) and faith (rightly understood) do have primacy, inasmuch as one can’t do good and avoid evil consistently without them,” he wrote. “At the same time, right reason and true faith preclude the use of the word ‘but,’ when that word is used to separate the conscience from sacred Revelation entrusted by Christ to the Church he founded.”

Noting the members’ professed membership in the “living Catholic tradition,” Fr. McTeigue offered a critique of that phrase.

The phrase “connotes that we aren’t bound to honor or preserve tradition, but that we’ll do what we want while keeping only the name of the tradition,” he wrote. “The ‘living’ part is expedient change; the ‘tradition’ part is we’re keeping the brand name.”

He invited signers of the statement onto his radio show on Friday.

“Let’s talk about it.  In the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15, write to to set up an on-air conversation with me,” he wrote. “I promise to be fair, polite, and charitable.”

In their statement, the 60 Catholic House Democrats urged not to be denied Communion.

“We solemnly urge you to not move forward and deny this most holy of all sacraments, the source and the summit of the whole work of the gospel over one issue,” they stated, addressing the “Church” in their statement.

They said to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians amounted to a “weaponization of the Eucharist,” and said that to do so “would indeed grieve the Holy Spirit and deny the evolution of that individual, a Christian person who is never perfect, but living in the struggle to get there.”

The members stated that their faith informs their actions, through “helping the poor, disadvantaged, and the oppressed, protecting the least among us, and ensuring that all Americans of every faith are given meaningful opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country.” They added that “we have a claim on the Church's bearing as it does on ours.”

Individual bishops have spoken out recently about the issue of Communion for pro-abortion politicians.

Regarding claims that issuing a statement on worthiness to receive Communion might be controversial and imperil the unity of Catholics, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois said this week that “There should be no unity with iniquity.”  

Eucharistic consistency isn’t simply about “abortion and euthanasia,” he said, but the problem of grave sin “of any kind.”

“It has been the constant teaching of the Catholic Church for the past two thousand years that those persons conscious of grave sin must first repent, confess their sins to a priest, and receive sacramental absolution before receiving holy Communion,” Paprocki said.

“This teaching is reflected in the Church’s canon law and sacramental discipline,” he noted.

Catholic columnist: ‘Brave new world’ of embryo experimentation could sharpen Communion debate

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 1:00pm

Washington D.C., Jun 24, 2021 / 11:00 am (CNA).

Recent developments regarding experimentation on human embryos could force a larger conflict between Catholic Democratic politicians and U.S. bishops on ethical issues, a New York Times columnist wrote on Tuesday.

In May, the influential International Society for Stem Cell Research relaxed its guidelines on human embryo experimentation. The society said it would be permissible to perform research and experiments on lab-grown embryos that are older than 14 days, provided certain conditions are met first. 

The society did not place a ceiling on when it would be inappropriate to research and experiment on embryos. 

“The issues raised by this shift could fill several bioethics journals, but for today I’m interested in a single political and religious question,” wrote columnist Ross Douthat of the New York Times on June 22. “Is there any scenario in which this kind of future would attract much opposition from Catholic politicians in the Democratic Party?”

“I think the answer is no: There is just too little daylight now between secular utilitarianism and liberal Catholicism in its political and partisan form,” he wrote. 

The International Society for Stem Cell Research set a previous limit on embryo experimentation at either 14 days or the formation of the first primitive streak, “whichever occurs first.” The new guidelines call for public conversations on not only the ethical concerns but also the “scientific significance” of the embryo experimentation. 

If local regulations and public opinion are in favor of experimentation past 14 days, “a specialized scientific and ethical oversight process could weigh whether the scientific objectives necessitate and justify the time in culture beyond 14 days,” the society said. 

Douthat’s column came several days after the U.S. bishops met virtually for their annual spring meeting. A key topic of discussion among bishops was over “Eucharistic coherence,” or worthiness to receive Communion; the bishops held the discussion as part of their vote to move ahead on a proposed teaching document on the Eucharist. 

President Joe Biden, only the second Catholic U.S. president, supports taxpayer-funded abortion. His administration has also moved to recognize sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in federal law, possibly setting up religious freedom conflicts with individuals and organizations that believe marriage to be between one man and one woman, and humans to be two sexes, male and female, from birth.

Individual bishops have recently brought up Eucharistic coherence with respect to Biden’s policies that contradict Church teaching. 

“Sadly, there are some bishops and cardinals of the Church who not only are willing to give holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, but who seek to block the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from addressing the question of Eucharistic coherence,” said Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, in May.

The matter of “Eucharistic coherence,” he said, “has taken on heightened urgency with the election of President Biden, a Catholic who promotes the evils of abortion, same-sex marriage, and transgenderism.”

Last week, 60 Catholic House Democrats issued a statement professing their Catholic faith, and asking not to be denied Communion because of their support for legal abortion.

Douthat, in his column, compared the shift in bioethics to the present debate over admitting pro-abortion politicians to Communion. 

“The justification for withholding communion is straightforward, however clouded by ideological disagreements,” he said. He noted that while both of America’s political parties take policy positions against Catholic teaching, “no Republican failure to spend enough on health care of education” has the same “directly lethal consequence” as legal abortion, which has resulted in “tens of millions” of deaths.

“There are many good reasons to avoid a political confrontation over communion and abortion right now, many reasons to expect that any effort will backfire or just fail,” he noted. 

However, if a future conflict over embryo experimentation on a mass scale arises, Douthat argued that the bishops’ actions now on Communion for pro-abortion politicians could possibly have an effect on such a future conflict.

“But if, over the next few generations, we move into a world where the liberalism of Catholic politicians requires them to support not just abortion rights but a brave new world of human life manufactured, commodified, vivisected and casually snuffed out — well, then the bishops of tomorrow may look back on today and wish they’d found a way to say ‘enough,’” he wrote. 

Coalition of state attorneys general ask Congress to restore Hyde Amendment

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 11:00am
Capitol / Lucky-photographer/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 24, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

A coalition of 22 state attorneys general asked Congress this week to restore a prohibition on federal funding of abortions, after it was omitted from President Joe Biden’s budget request for the 2022 fiscal year.

The coalition, led by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R), sent a June 21 letter to congressional leaders defending the pro-life Hyde Amendment. The policy prohibits federal funding of elective abortions in Medicaid.

Marshall told CNA in a phone interview on Wednesday that he and his colleagues want to show “a strong consensus of Republican attorneys general who not only believe this is incorrect fiscal policy for the country, this is a reversal of what was very much a bipartisan position.” 

“We are attempting to make a very strong stand on principle relating to the position of life,” he said.

Marshall argued that state attorneys general should work to protect a policy that offers conscience protections to taxpayers. “Taxpayers who fundamentally oppose abortion shouldn’t have their tax dollars pay for abortion on demand,” Marshall said. 

The Hyde Amendment, named for the late Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, is a federal policy first enacted in 1976, three years after the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision. It prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for elective abortions; exceptions were added in 1993 for cases involving rape, incest, or a maternal mortality risk. 

Since the amendment is not permanent law, it must be attached to individual appropriations bills each year as a funding condition, in order to take effect. 

As a candidate for president in 2020, Biden called for an end to the use of the Hyde Amendment, reversing his previous support of the policy that he had even outlined in a 1994 letter to a constituent.

In their letter this week, the attorneys general took aim at Biden’s reversal of support for Hyde, arguing that Congress “should not indulge it.”

“We were disappointed to find the conspicuous omission of the Hyde Amendment in the budget proposal that President Biden delivered to Congress earlier this month,” they wrote, adding that that they “have a unique interest in the Hyde Amendment as an important protection for the consciences of the millions of Americans who oppose public funding of abortion.”

Earlier this year, the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, the Democratic Women’s Caucus leaders, and some Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Biden calling on him to eliminate the Hyde Amendment and comparable policies, describing them as part of “long-standing structural racism and inequities in our health care system.” House Appropriations Committee chair Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), a Catholic, has advocated for the repeal of the policy as well.

A Knights of Columbus/Marist poll released in January found most Americans oppose the use of tax dollars to pay for elective abortion procedures.

An effort to codify Hyde as permanent law failed on Wednesday, as House Democrats used a procedural maneuver to block a vote on H.R. 18, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2021, authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.).

Louisiana governor vetoes women’s sports bill 

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 8:00pm
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have prohibited student athletes from competing in single-sex athletic events opposite their biological sex.

The state’s Senate Bill 156, the “Fairness in Women's Sports Act,” would have required publicly-funded schools to permit student athletes to compete only on teams corresponding with their biological sex, not their gender identity. Students identifying as transgender would have had to compete in the sport of their biological sex.

The governor, a Catholic, said in a statement that “discrimination is not a Louisiana value,” explaining his decision to veto the bill. The legislation, he said, was “a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana.” 

“Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue,” Gov. Edwards said of athletes identifying as transgender participating in sports opposite their birth sex.

He said the bill “would make life more difficult for transgender children, who are some of the most vulnerable Louisianans when it comes to issues of mental health.” 

“We should be looking for more ways to unite rather than divide our citizens,” he said. “And while there is no issue to be solved by this bill, it does present real problems in that it makes it more likely that NCAA and professional championships, like the 2022 Final Four, would not happen in our state. For these and for other reasons, I have vetoed the bill."

The bill passed by wide margins in the state legislature, by a vote of 29-6 in the state Senate and 78-19 in the state House. According to Baton Rouge’s The Advocate newspaper, those margins would be sufficient to override a governor's veto.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) on Wednesday called for a veto session by the legislature.

"The passage of the Fairness in Women's Sports Act (SB156) was a common-sense approach by the Legislature to protect women,” Landry said. “The Governor's disrespect for women by vetoing this bipartisan bill was both disappointing and irresponsible.”

In a statement, Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel for the group Alliance Defending Freedom, said the group is “disappointed by Gov. Edwards’s decision to ignore the best interests of women and girls and veto the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” 

Alliance Defending Freedom is fighting a state interscholastic athletics policy in Connecticut that allows athletes to compete in sports based on their gender identity. Four girls sued over the athletics policy, saying they were discriminated against in having to compete against biological males identifying as transgender females. 

“This legislation ensures that female athletes in Louisiana are able to compete on a level playing field,” Holcomb said of the Louisiana bill. “Allowing males to compete in girls’ sports is discriminatory and destroys fair competition and women’s athletic opportunities.”

“We’ve seen increasing examples across the country of males dominating girls’ athletic competitions when competing as females, capturing championships and shattering long-standing female track records,” she said. In Connecticut, two biological male runners captured a combined 15 state track championship titles after the state’s policy went into effect in 2017.

“While we are disappointed by the governor’s veto, we are thankful to Sen. Beth Mizell for sponsoring this important legislation and to Louisiana legislators for taking a strong stand for female athletes,” Holcomb stated.

Opponents of the bill said it discriminated against transgender athletes. 

In a statement, Alphonso David, president of the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, called the legislation “nothing more than a politically motivated bill that seeks to dehumanize transgender children.” 

Holcomb added that she hopes the Louisiana legislature will override the veto and “join states like Florida, Arkansas, West Virginia, Montana, and Idaho that have codified protections for women’s sports into law.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 35 comparable bills have been introduced in 31 states this year, an increase from 29 such bills in 2020 and just two in 2019.

Portland archbishop welcomes ‘Eucharistic Revival,’ emphasizes worthy reception of Communion

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 7:00pm
Archbishop Alexander Sample during Mass at St. John the Baptist Church in Milwaukie, Oregon, in 2019. / Ed Langlois

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon last week praised a new “Eucharistic Revival” initiative of the U.S.bishops that aims to foster deeper devotion to the Eucharist.

“It’s all intended to bring about a real revival in our faith, our love, our devotion and our living out of the Eucharistic mystery,” Archbishop Sample said Friday, as reported by The Catholic Sentinel. 

The U.S. bishops’ initiative, which will begin in the summer of 2022, aims to lead a “three year period of revival” nationwide, bringing the focus of Eucharistic revival to “any parish that desires it.” 

“I’m excited about this. I think it’s going to be great for the life of the church,” Archbishop Sample said last week.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens, an auxiliary bishop of Saint Paul-Minneapolis and chair of the U.S. bishops’ evangelization committee, presented the plan to his fellow bishops during their virtual spring meeting on June 18. 

Archbishop Sample noted the importance of receiving the Eucharist in a worthy manner, which he said serves as a call to all Catholics to constant conversion away from sin. 

The archbishop said that some Catholic public officials, by using ther office to advance abortion, are formally cooperating with grave evil, and thus could create public scandal by presenting themselves for Communion without first repenting of their position. 

He explained the need for Catholics to live their lives in conformity with Church teaching, to receive Communion.

“Our amen that we say before we receive the Eucharist is an amen not just to the fact that this is the body of Christ; rather, we are saying amen to all that that means,” Sample said. 

“That means our communion with the church, our communion with the faith, our belief in all that the church believes and professes, and that we live it in our own lives. We can’t live a life that is inconsistent. We can’t receive the Eucharist and then live in a way that is contrary to the faith,” he said. 

The bishops’ three-year Eucharistic Revival program will take place on three levels: parish, diocesan, and nationwide. 

Beginning in July 2022, dioceses across the country will be encouraged to hold Eucharistic events and make the Eucharist a primary focus. The bishops aim to provide free teaching materials on the Eucharist, developed with the help of various catechetical partners. 

Following that period, in July 2023, parishes will be encouraged to do the same, expanding Eucharistic adoration and embracing diverse Eucharistic traditions to help foster a greater love for the Eucharist among their members. Parish level initiatives could include offering teaching Masses, and small group formation. 

The revival would culminate in summer 2024 with a Eucharistic celebration event, held in a major city, that would serve as a national pilgrimage site.

The planned revival was spurred by a 2019 study by the Pew Research center, which found that just 31% of U.S. Catholics believe in the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation, that the bread and wine offered at Mass become the body and blood of Jesus. 

More than two thirds of those surveyed, 69%, reported that they believe that the bread and wine at Mass “are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” 

At the time, Sample addressed his flock regarding the results of the survey. “These results have to be a real wake up call for all of us,” he wrote on Aug. 30, 2019. He challenged archdiocesan Catholic schools, parish religious education programs, and adult faith formation programs to put a greater emphasis on the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist.

“To simply shrug our shoulders at such disturbing news and move on with business as usual is simply not an option. We must do everything in our power to reverse this trend,” he wrote. 

“People will more easily grow lax in the practice of their faith, or drop out altogether, if they don’t understand and believe the mystery we celebrate in the Holy Eucharist and how that drives everything else we do in the ministry of the Church.”

The plan for a Eucharistic Revival comes after the U.S. bishops last week voted to draft a teaching document on the Eucharist, which would include a subsection on “Eucharistic coherence,” or worthiness to receive Communion.

In a proposed outline of the document, the bishops’ doctrine committee cited the special need for Catholic public officials to uphold Church teaching in public life, but stressed that they are not drafting any national policy of denying Communion.

Bishop Paprocki: Regarding Communion debate “There should be no unity with iniquity”

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 6:56pm
Bishop Thomas Paprocki. / Courtesy Diocese of Springfield.

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 16:56 pm (CNA).

In a statement published on June 23, 2021, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois lambasted recent media coverage of the USCCB vote to draft a document on the Eucharist.

Among the errors pointed out in the statement were claims by several media outlets that the “Vatican had warned the Catholic Bishops of the United States not to pass this proposal.”

Said Bishop Paprocki, “That is simply false.”

To clarify the issue the bishop continued, “In fact, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, SJ, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had written to the president of the USCCB calling for ‘dialogue . . .  first among the bishops themselves, and then between bishops and Catholic pro-choice politicians within their jurisdictions.’ In fact, bishops and politicians have been dialoguing about this issue for many years.”

He argued that the draft document was “precisely” the impetus needed to give the dialogue form and substance. USCCB procedures will now allow for regional bishops’ meetings to discuss the document and a formal debate and vote on the document—with the ability to propose amendments—at the November meeting.

Additionally, he noted that one of the “misleading arguments” was voiced by bishops and cardinals inside the USCCB. These bishops and cardinals argued that “drafting this document …would be divisive and would harm the unity of the bishops’ conference,” according to the statement.

However, Bishop Paprocki countered that “There should be no unity with iniquity.”  

“Yes, we should strive for unity, but our unity should be based on the truths of our faith as found in Sacred Scripture and the constant Tradition of the Church. No one should want to be united on the path to perdition.”

The bishop stressed that other members of the hierarchy in Latin America united in the teaching on “Eucharistic coherence”— “including Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis).” The Latin American bishops were the first to use the term “eucharistic coherence,” though they were building off of the term “eucharistic consistency” used in Sacramentum Caritatis by Pope Benedict XVI. The term has been explosive in the American context, though it has been a feature of theological and papal thought with little controversy before immersion into its current context.

Addressing yet another inaccuracy, he asserted that Eucharistic consistency isn’t simply about “abortion and euthanasia,” but the problem of grave sin “of any kind.”

While mainstream reporting has often given the impression that the bishops recently decided only one sin will prevent someone from reception of the Eucharist, “It has been the constant teaching of the Catholic Church for the past two thousand years that those persons conscious of grave sin must first repent, confess their sins to a priest, and receive sacramental absolution before receiving holy Communion,” said the bishop.

“This teaching is reflected in the Church’s canon law and sacramental discipline,” he noted.

Finally, Bishop Paprocki concluded with a description of the oath taken by a bishop at his ordination and an exhortation to his brother bishops to “have the courage to fulfill their solemn oath.”  

The oath reads: “In fulfilling the charge entrusted to me in the name of the Church, I shall hold fast to the deposit of faith in its entirety; I shall faithfully hand it on and explain it, and I shall avoid any teachings contrary to it. I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall maintain the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.”

USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat: Congress must prevent taxpayer-funded abortion

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 6:35pm
Nicole Glass Photography/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2021 / 16:35 pm (CNA).

The House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected an opportunity to vote on a prohibition of taxpayer-funded abortion.

On Tuesday evening, House Republican leadership and the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus co-chairs filed a motion to force debate and a full House vote on H.R. 18, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.). The members asked for a unanimous consent request to discharge the bill from committee and hold debate and a vote by the full chamber.

On Wednesday, House Democratic leadership blocked the motion to hold a vote on H.R. 18, through a “previous question” procedural maneuver. The vote to kill the maneuver – and hold a vote on the abortion funding prohibition – failed by nine votes, 218-209. Every House Democrat voted in favor of the maneuver, with the exception of Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) who did not vote.

“It is gravely wrong to force all Americans to pay for the killing of innocent babies with their tax dollars,” said Kat Talalas with the U.S. bishops’ conference Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

“Most Americans oppose using their tax dollars to pay for elective abortions, and the failure of the House of Representatives to pass H.R. 18 is unjustifiable,” Talalas said. “Congress must act to protect millions of babies and their mothers from the tragedy of abortion and protect American taxpayers from paying for the destruction of innocent human life.” 

Smith on Tuesday evening spoke on the House floor in favor of his bill. Smith is the founder and one of the four co-chairs of the House Congressional Pro-Life Caucus; the other co-chairs are Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), and new co-chairs Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.), and Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.).

“By reason of their age, dependency, immaturity, inconvenience, fragility and/or unwantedness, unborn children have been denied justice—and the most fundamental of all human rights, the right to life. The right to life is for everyone not just the planned, the privileged or the perfect,” Smith said.

“With deep respect for my colleagues, I believe unborn children need the President of the United States and Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to be their friends and advocates—not powerful adversaries,” he said.

Republicans plan to use the “unanimous consent” procedure in the future to request a vote on H.R. 18. House Republicans used the same procedure to request a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in 2019 and 2020, but were denied a vote on the pro-life bill dozens of times.

The failure of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act comes after President Biden’s budget request to Congress excluded the Hyde Amendment – a long-standing federal policy that prohibits federal funding of elective abortions in Medicaid. The policy has become law each year by being attached to appropriations bills as a budget rider.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton submitted a budget request that excluded the Hyde amendment, but an amended version of the policy was later included and signed into law as part of the appropriations legislation.

House Democrats have promised to repeal the Hyde amendment in 2021, passing appropriations bills for the 2022 fiscal year that do not include the measure.

“We’re going to fight with everything we have to preserve Hyde protections,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said on June 16.

Smith said that, according to studies, Hyde has prevented millions of abortions.

“More than twenty peer-reviewed studies show that more than 2.4 million people are alive today in the United States because of the Hyde Amendment—with about 60,000 babies spared death by abortion every year,” Smith said on Tuesday evening.

“Years ago, then-Senator Biden wrote to constituents explaining his support for the Hyde amendment and said it would ‘protect both the woman and her unborn child,’” Smith said, quoting from a 1994 letter by then-Senator Joe Biden to a constituent.

Biden, in his letter, said he voted 50 times in favor of the Hyde amendment, and told constituents that “those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them.”

“I absolutely agree—those of us opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them,” Smith said.

Other pro-life policies could be at risk in the 2022 fiscal year budget process. The House Appropriations Finance Committee is advancing a funding bill for the District of Columbia and various government offices, but without the Smith Amendment, which prohibits funding of abortion coverage in the federal employees health benefits program. It also would exclude the Dornan amendment, which blocks federal funding of abortions in the District of Columbia.

Priest ordained in Spanish diocese after almost 11 years without vocations

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 6:00pm
Priestly ordination / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

On June 20, Bishop César Franco of the Diocese of Segovia, Spain, ordained Álvaro Marín Molinera to the priesthood - almost 11 years after the last priest was ordained for the small diocese.

Family, friends and a broad representation of the priests and deacons of the province also attended the ordination ceremony in the cathedral.

Marín, 27, was ordained a deacon in October 2020, and received formation at the University of Ávila and the Pontifical University of Salamanca.

The last ordination of diocesan priests in the diocese was on July 4, 2010. Franco also ordained a young Claretian religious to the priesthood on June 5.

According to the newspaper El Adelantado de Segovia, the new diocesan priest chose as his motto, “I can do all things in the One who strengthens me.”

During his homily at the ordination Mass, Bishop Franco said that “the priesthood gives you the authority to confront evil, but to do this you have to imitate in your life the mystery of the cross.” 

The bishop stressed that to exercise the ministry, “you can’t be a coward, not trust in Christ or live the faith in a mediocre way,” and so he encouraged Marín to put all his strength in Jesus Christ.

The newly-ordained priest quoted St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars: “I prostrated myself conscious of my nothingness and arose a priest forever.”

Why a bishop in Taiwan resigned only six months after installation

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 5:30pm
Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

The Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Tainan in Taiwan resigned six months after his ordination and installation on Jan. 1, 2021, citing physical and mental problems.

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop John Lee Juo-Wang on June 19, said a report from Agenzia Fides. Bishop Lee, the first native of Taiwan to be consecrated a bishop in 30 years, cited “serious psychological and physical problems” as reasons for his resignation.

“After long prayers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I humbly accept that I have a serious health problem,” he said in a letter to the faithful of his diocese.

He said he chose to resign “for the good of the diocese” and asked for prayers from the faithful.

“Through prayer and reading, I better understand what Saint Paul says in his Letter to the Romans (12:2): ‘Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect,” wrote the bishop.

“May the Lord bless you. May He carry you through the pandemic, give salvation to the dead, health to the sick, work for everyone,” he said.

“I also pray for priests who are victims of pressure,” added the bishop, as he urged the faithful to have “the courage to face, with the commitment of all,” the challenges of evangelization.

Bishop Lee was born on Nov. 2, 1966, in Tainan city, Taiwan, to parents who arrived as refugees from mainland China. 

One of nine siblings, he was given up for adoption. The first family that adopted him had financial problems, and he was then adopted a second time by a family that raised him as a Catholic.

He attended a Salesian school in Tainan and entered the minor seminary at the age of 12. He studied philosophy and theology at St. Pius X Seminary in Tainan.

He was ordained priest on Jan. 1, 1993, and was assigned as assistant pastor at the cathedral parish. He later became parish priest of the Holy Name of Jesus parish until 1999.

He earned a licentiate degree in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. He was president of the Commission for the Promotion of Vocations, and later became chancellor of the diocese in 2017, and then its vicar general in 2019.

Pope Francis appointed him bishop of Tainan on Nov. 14, 2020, and he was consecrated bishop on January 1, 2021. 

The Diocese of Tainan has a population of about two million people, 7,500 of whom are Catholics. The pope has appointed Bishop Bosco Lin Chi-nan, bishop emeritus of Tainan, as apostolic administrator of the diocese.

Leading US bishops praise Biden's global vaccine pledge

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 4:01pm
Joe Biden. Credit: Drop of light / Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2021 / 14:01 pm (CNA).

Leading U.S. bishops on Wednesday praised President Joe Biden for pledging 500 million COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries, and urged his administration to work with Catholic and other faith-based groups on vaccine distribution.

“As world leaders work together to help bring an end to this pandemic, we are grateful for President Biden’s leadership to aid the poor and vulnerable around the world who remain most at-risk,” read a statement on Wednesday from Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB), and Bishop David Malloy of Rockford, chair of the USCCB international justice and peace committee.

The bishops responded to recent news that President Biden committed the United States to purchasing 500 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 100 low-income countries.

At a summit of G7 member countries last week in Cornwall, England, the United States and other countries committed to providing in total more than one billion vaccine doses for countries in need. Other G7 partners of the United States include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

“This gesture of global solidarity is timely, responding to those regions with the greatest need, particularly in Africa and South Asia,” Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Malloy.

They asked the Biden administration to partner with Catholic and other faith-based groups on vaccine distribution.

“We encourage the Administration to partner with Catholic and other well established and broad reaching faith-based health care structures throughout the developing world to facilitate and strengthen vaccine distribution as we work together to save and restore lives,” they stated.

Pope Francis, in his Easter 2021 “Urbi et Orbi” message, called vaccines an “essential tool” to combat the pandemic, and asked the international community, “in a spirit of global responsibility,” to expedite vaccine distribution “especially in the poorest countries.”

In his Christmas 2020 “Urbi et Orbi” blessing, Pope Francis said that a COVID-19 vaccine must be “for all,” and asked for “a solution for everyone: vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy of all regions of the planet. Before all others: the most vulnerable and needy!”

Leaders of G7 countries have committed to financing and providing around 2.3 billion vaccines since 2020, according to the White House. Investment in local vaccine production will support at least one billion vaccine doses by the end of 2022, the White House claimed.

The World Health Organization said this week that the global vaccine initiative COVAX has yielded only 90 million doses in 131 countries, far fewer doses than needed to combat the spread of the virus in Asia and Africa, according to BBC News.

The aid group Catholic Relief Services also praised the Biden administration’s 500 million vaccines pledge on June 10, but said there must also be a “U.S.-led plan to get those vaccines in arms.”

Bill O’Keefe, executive vice president for mission, mobilization and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services, warned that virus cases were already “spiking in Haiti, Nepal, Brazil and across Africa.”

“The poor are getting poorer. The quicker we can vaccinate vulnerable populations, the quicker we can make up for such losses as well as prevent future loss,” he said.

New documentary warns about danger of the abortion pill

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 11:00am

Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

A new documentary series warns about the dangers of chemical abortions, as the Biden Administration has recently removed restrictions on the abortion pill regimen during the pandemic.

In an “emergency broadcast” by pro-life organizations on Tuesday evening which introduced the series, the president of the group Students for Life, Kristan Hawkins, warned that deregulating the abortion pill regimen would lead to a “domino effect throughout America.” 

Dr. Christina Francis, chairman of the board of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said the lifting of the safety regulations would be “an absolute attack on women's health in this country.” 

Dr. Francis said that if the federal regulations on the abortion pill are lifted, the abortion pill could be available over-the-counter or on internet websites. The pro-life movement’s push for abortion regulations across the country would effectively be rendered “moot,” she said.

The documentary series premiered directly after the broadcast on Tuesday evening on The series was produced by Charlotte Pence Bond, daughter of former Vice President Mike Pence, and the groups Students for Life and Heartbeat International both partnered in the production. 

The June 22 broadcast featured pro-life speakers, politicians, medical, and legal experts sharing information about the dangers of chemical abortion. They also discussed abortion pill reversal, and the Biden administration’s recent move to deregulate the abortion pill regimen. 

Since the year 2000, the regimen has been listed on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) program, reserved for higher-risk drugs and procedures. As part of the REMS protocol, the regimen has to be prescribed and dispensed in-person, in a health clinic setting, by a certified prescriber. 

In April, however, acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock announced that the administration would “exercise enforcement discretion” on the regimen during the COVID-19 public health emergency, allowing the protocol to be prescribed and dispensed remotely during the pandemic. 

The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, expressed support for allowing the regimen to be prescribed remotely through telemedicine and dispensed through the mail or by mail-order pharmacies, beyond the pandemic, at his Feb. 23 confirmation hearing.

Hosted by the former CEO of 40 Days for Life, David Bereit, the 50-minute webcast on Tuesday focused on the consequences of the removal of the REMS procedures. 

“This isn’t a bill that we can stop,” Hawkins said. “This is a mandate that's coming down from President Biden’s administration.” 

Tina Whittington, vice president of Students for Life, encouraged all viewers to sign a petition to the FDA to keep the safety regulations in place for chemical abortions. Signing the petition will hold back some of the “scourge” of mail-order abortions, Whittington said. 

Dr. Brent Boles, the medical director at Heartbeat International, said that the abortion industry deceives people with faulty statistics about the abortion pill. He criticized the conclusion of former Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards in her 2018 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, that medication abortion is safer than taking Tylenol. 

“If you want to make an accurate conclusion about abortion safety across the board, you have to have comprehensive and accurate statistics,” Boles said. “No such database exists in the United States.”

Boles said that only 28 states are required to report complications and deaths from abortion to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, “and there’s no enforcement mechanism in any of those 28 states that ensures compliance.” The other 22 states do not report deaths or complications from abortion at all, he said.

Denise Harle, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, said the abortion industry was hypocritical in pushing to keep abortion clinics open during the pandemic as “essential” businesses, while advocating against the in-person requirements for abortion pill prescriptions.

Harle called out Becerra for his history of pushing for easy access to abortion pills as the former attorney general of California. 

President of Heartbeat International, Jor-El Godsey, said the abortion industry has major incentives to promote mail-order abortion. Godsey said that the REMS protocol protected women so that they would be able to see a doctor and get evaluated before putting themselves at risk.

Congressman Chip Roy (R-Texas) said that he has introduced new legislation which would withhold federal dollars from universities unless they certify they are not providing chemical abortions on campus.

Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) called the Biden administration’s de-regulation of the abortion pill “political theatre,” in a pre-recorded speech for the webcast. 

“Why are doctors required for all other medical prescriptions to inform women about the potential risks but not when they prescribe chemical abortion drugs?” Miller asked. 

Bereit advised viewers to call on members of Congress to hold the FDA accountable, and to share the series “with everyone you know.”

Five Quotes to Bring you Closer to Saint John the Baptist

Wed, 06/23/2021 - 8:30am
Close up from "The Baptism of Christ" (c. 1482) by Pietro Perugino. / Wikipedia.

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Saint John the Baptist finds himself in elite company. Together with St. Joseph he is one of only two saints besides the Blessed Virgin Mary to have more than one feast day and he and the Blessed Virgin Mary are the only saints to have a feast day celebrating their birth.

June 24th is the solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.  Here are five quotes to help you get to know the man of whom Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.”

  1. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

Bible scholar John Bergsma recently discussed John the Baptist’s formative years with the Essene movement. The Essenes intimately connected the Holy Spirit with water. John the Baptist went even further, connecting the baptism of the Messiah not just with water and the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit and fire. Bring on the heat!

  1. “He must increase; I must decrease.”

John’s birth is celebrated near the pinnacle of light in the northern hemisphere, the summer solstice. The liturgical calendar reveals something of the reality of John’s mission as a precursor to the Messiah, the Incarnate Son of God who is “the Light that shines in the darkness.” After the summer solstice each year, the amount of sunlight begins to decrease, just as John began to decrease in anticipation of the Messiah’s coming. It reaches its lowest ebb just before Christmas, when the Light of Lights descends from heaven and physical light itself begins to increase.  

  1. “Repent, the Kingdom of God is near.”

A true mystic, John’s interior life and supernatural vision of reality allowed him to lead others to the conviction that they must change their way of life to see Heaven. Baptized by the Holy Spirit in the womb of his mother, John’s life was marked by in-breaking of the Kingdom of Heaven from his earliest days. His words captured reality so clearly they became the first words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark: “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

  1. “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee before the coming wrath?”

John the Baptist wasn’t much for hypocrisy, as evidenced by his choice words for the Pharisees and Sadducees. He spoke kindly of tax collectors and prostitutes who repented, however. His words are a not so gentle reminder that humble acknowledgment of our sins is more important than keeping up appearances.

  1. “Behold, the Lamb of God!”

John the Baptist was among the first to recognize the divinity of Jesus. Not only does he leap in the womb, he instructs his own disciples Andrew and John to follow Jesus, calling him the Lamb of God. The priest repeats this startling recognition of Jesus’ identity at every Mass: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”

May the words of John the Baptist kindle the fire of love within you on this solemnity so that you may decrease, see Heaven in the midst of everyday life, live with integrity, and behold the Lamb of God.

Catholic teen works toward Gold Award by serving single mothers 

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 8:00pm
Donation drive for Mary's Homes of Hope / Ciara Leal

Denver Newsroom, Jun 22, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

A Catholic teen in Colorado is hoping to earn the Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, by serving at a Catholic home for single mothers. 

Since 2019, Ciara Marie Leal has organized countless donation drives for Mary’s Homes of Hope, a Catholic ministry to women who have experienced homelessness, based in a Denver suburb. She also helped design a website for the organization. 

Statistics show that in Colorado, nearly 6% of households with children under the age of 18 are led by a single mother. 

However, Leal’s inspiration for her project was more personal. Her own sister is raising two children as a single mother. 

“I was close with her when I was younger, but once I got older we kind of drifted apart,” Leal said of her sister. “In 2019, she started coming back into my life, and I noticed the struggles that she's had as a single mother, who doesn't have any support or resources.”

Years earlier, Leal had done similar work with Catholic Charities of Denver’s Marisol Homes and Gabriel House - ministries for single mothers and young families - to earn her Bronze Award with the Girl Scouts of America. 

She learned about Mary’s Homes of Hope through Lynn Reid, OFS, who previously worked at Marisol Homes and Gabriel House.

Leal held several interviews with Reid, and began organizing donation drives in late 2019 and early 2020. Leal had to suspend her donation drives when the coronavirus pandemic started, but she wanted to find a way to continue spreading the word about Mary’s Homes of Hope’s mission.

“That's when I started thinking of the idea of a website, because I needed the message of Mary's Homes of Hope to basically get out there, to the media and to the world,” Leal said. 

Leal said the project has revitalized her Catholic faith. She held her donation drives at her parish, and spoke with countless parishioners about Mary’s Homes of Hope. 

“Once I reached high school, I kind of drifted away from my faith and I really needed a stepping stone to bring me back into my faith,” Leal said. “That's where my Gold Award plays in, in that it brought me back into my faith, to serve God and help his children in need.”

She has also grown closer to her sister through the project. 

“Once she realized that I was doing this as my Gold Award, she was so happy because she doesn't want other single mothers and women to face what she has faced in the past,” Leal said of her sister. 

Leal will deliver her final presentation for the Gold Award in mid-July. She is now a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts, and will no longer be eligible for further awards or badges. She said she is grateful for the 13 years she spent in Girl Scouts. 

“It definitely has shaped how I see the world,” she said. “It's taught me goal setting, math and money management, business, ethics, people skills and other  basic life needs that I need to work on throughout my development and growth.” 

“It has given me so many opportunities that I'm very grateful for.” 

To donate to Leal’s drive for Mary’s Homes of Hope, visit and click the donation tab. 

Now agreeing with former priest’s victim, Kansas City archdiocese says abuse claim was substantiated

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 7:00pm
Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas / Mwkruse, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Denver Newsroom, Jun 22, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Crediting a sex abuse victim for his challenge of a review board’s ruling in 2002, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas says an allegation that a now-laicized priest abused a minor was, in fact, able to be substantiated. 

“The archdiocese is particularly grateful for this survivor’s courage and strength in coming forward to challenge the decision,” the archdiocese said in a June 18 statement in the case involving former priest William Haegelin.

“Due to this persistence, we are now able to acknowledge more fully the harm to the survivor and to better assist and support their healing,” the archdiocese said. “Archbishop Naumann offers his sincere apology to the survivor, their family and community.”

Voicing “deep sorrow for the suffering of victims and survivors of abuse,” the archdiocese said that former priest William Haegelin was in fact the subject of “a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.”

Haegelin was removed from ministry in 2002 and laicized in 2004. The archdiocese said an investigation in 2002 “led to an inaccurate determination and announcement that he did not sexually abuse a minor.”

The archdiocese’s statement did not explain the reasons for reversing the announcement.

A man who said the priest sexually abused him as a minor in the 1980s had written a two-page letter documenting his allegations to the archdiocese in 2002.

After receiving the letter, the archdiocese put Haegelin on administrative paid leave. The archdiocese’s independent review board then ruled there was no evidence that Haegelin had sexual relations with his accuser when the latter was a minor. There was, however, evidence that he did have relations when the accuser was a legal adult, the review board found.

Some 19 years later, the archdiocese has now added Haegelin’s name to its list of credibly accused priests, published on the archdiocese website. He had been listed before in the category “Previously Publicized Allegations Not Able to Be Substantiated.”

“Archbishop Naumann urges anyone harmed by William Haegelin to contact both law enforcement and the archdiocese,” the archdiocese said. 

“The archdiocese takes very seriously its obligation to address any allegation of abuse or misconduct by church personnel.”

The archdiocese encouraged any new allegation of abuse to be reported to the Kansas Protection Report Center. Those who suspect abuse or misconduct by an archdiocesan cleric, employee or volunteer should also contact the archdiocese’s confidential report line.

Haegelin’s last assignment was at St. Ann Catholic Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. 

In 2002, the archdiocese’s then-vicar general Msgr. Charles McGlinn said then-Archbishop James P. Keleher hoped that Haegelin would return to service in the archdiocese after taking a sabbatical and undergoing spiritual counseling, the Kansas City Star reports.

In November 2002, Haegelin said in a statement that he thought the review board had conducted a “full and fair investigation.”

“I look forward to the coming time granted to me for spiritual renewal ... and ask for your continued prayers,” the priest stated at the time.

While incidents of Catholic sex abuse by clergy appear to have peaked in the U.S. in the mid-1970s, victims of abuse often take years to come forward. Only in 2002 did the Catholic Church come under massive external criticism, resulting in ongoing efforts by the U.S. bishops and other Catholic institutions to better address abuse, respond to and assist survivors, and mandate training to help prevent abuse.

Clergy sex abuse victimized tens of thousands of people in the U.S. and Catholic institutions have spent billions of dollars in legal judgments and other agreements.

Oakland bishop: Unmasked Massgoers should not be ‘policed’

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 6:01pm
Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland / Diocese of Oakland

Denver Newsroom, Jun 22, 2021 / 16:01 pm (CNA).

The bishop of Oakland, California on Monday said that Catholics fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not have to wear masks at Mass, adding that those not vaccinated will not be forced to wear a mask.

“The mask rules for offices, schools, travel, public transportation and businesses are still being worked out by government health officials. But churchgoers may dispense with the mask if they have been vaccinated,” Bishop Michael Barber, SJ wrote in a June 21 column. He added that no one should be “forced or requested to prove their vaccination status to participate in worship.”

Those who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 are asked to continue to wear masks at Mass, Barber said, but the new protocols are based on the “honor system.” He cautioned that “no one should be criticized if they choose not to be vaccinated, and/or wear a mask inside our churches.” 

“Our ushers and greeters should extend a warm welcome and answer questions about the new policy, but they should never be used as ‘mask police,’” the bishop wrote. 

Dioceses across the country are continuing to lift the general dispensations from the Sunday Mass obligation, put in place last year due to the pandemic. The dispensation in the diocese of Oakland will end on Sunday, Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption.

“I extend a warm ‘welcome home’ to our parishioners, who have been starving spiritually during this pandemic,” Barber concluded.

“The Lord has given us ‘Bread from heaven, containing all sweetness within it.’ Let us do what the Good Shepherd commands us and open wide our doors to ‘Feed His lambs, feed His sheep’,” he said. 

California’s Alameda County, which includes the city of Oakland, has recorded about 90,000 total cases of COVID-19. 

Other dioceses have similarly discouraged “policing” of the vaccination status of Mass attendees. 

The Diocese of LaCrosse, Wisconsin announced on Tuesday the reinstatement of the Sunday obligation on the weekend of June 26-27. Bishop William Callahan noted that “vaccinated-only” Masses are not allowed, and that “checking vaccination status of Mass attendees is also not permitted.”

The ecclesiastical provinces of Baltimore and Washington - which include the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the dioceses of Wilmington, Arlington, Richmond, and Wheeling-Charleston - will lift the dispensation that same weekend. Fully vaccinated people will not need to wear a mask at Mass, and “do not need to supply proof of vaccination,” the dioceses announced recently, adding that “parishes should not ask to see or check vaccination cards.”

Ottawa archbishop apologizes for Church’s role in Canada’s residential schools

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 4:03pm
Memorial in tribute to 215 Indigenous children at the site of the former Kamloops residential school. / meandering images/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 22, 2021 / 14:03 pm (CNA).

The archbishop of Ottawa-Cornwall on June 17 apologized for the role of the Catholic Church in administering the country’s residential school system, and requested a formal apology by Pope Francis.

“As we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, I extend my sincere apology for the involvement of the Catholic Church in the residential school system, and I pray for healing as the Church in Canada walks the path of reconciliation with the Indigenous people in our community,” said Archbishop Marcel Damphousse of Ottawa-Cornwall, in a video posted on YouTube on June 17. 

In Canada, National Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated on June 21.  

“As a member of the Catholic Church, and as a bishop, I am so sorry. I know I am not alone in my sorrow and contrition,” said Damphousse. “I add my voice to those who are asking the Holy Father for an apology to Indigenous peoples of Canada.” 

In addition to Damphousse, the Archbishop of Vancouver recently suggested that Pope Francis should formally apologize for the Church’s role in the residential school system.

"I know that the apology that is being asked for from the TRC is that the pope come in person to issue an apology," Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver said, as reported by CBC on June 8. Miller was referring to the call for a papal apology, made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission operated from 2008 until 2015, and issued a lengthy report on the history of the residential school system and abuses committed in the system. 

"If someone asked me, do I think the pope should apologize, I would say yes," Archbishop Miller said.

Archbishop Damphousse said that he was at “a loss for words” to describe how he felt following the recent discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. The remains of the children were discovered the weekend of May 22, with the use of ground-penetrating radar. It is unknown how the children died, or who they were. 

The Kamloops Industrial School, later renamed the Kamloops Indian Residential School, was established by the federal government and began operations in 1890. At one point, it was the largest residential school in the country. 

The residential school system was set up by the federal government beginning in the 1870s, placing First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children in boarding schools and separating them from their families. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the school system aimed to strip the children of their cultural and familial ties, and force assimilation. The schools were run by Catholics and members of Protestant denominations.

A lay Catholic principal oversaw the Kamloops school until it was administered by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate beginning in 1893. In 1969, the Canadian government took control of the school, which at that point operated as a residence for First Nations children who were attending area day schools. The residence was closed in 1978. 

Previously, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission found that 51 children had died at the Kamloops school. The commission said that an estimated 4,100 to 6,000 students died as a result of neglect or abuse in the country’s residential schools. The last federally-run residential school in Canada closed in 1996. 

In 2017, Pope Francis met with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who invited the pope to visit Canada and make a formal apology for the Church’s role in the residential school system. Trudeau recently said he was “disappointed” at the lack of a papal apology. Pope Francis has expressed his sadness for the recent discovery in Kamloops, and offered prayers for the children who died in the residential schools, but has not formally apologized. 

Leaders of the Assembly of First Nations and the Métis National Council are planning a visit to the Vatican this fall, alongside the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), to request a formal papal apology.

Bishop Joesph Nguyen of Kamloops told CFJC Today, regarding a papal apology, that it “is not only an apology for the Pope and the church. We’d like to have a long-lasting reconciliation. The Pope would like to listen directly from Indigenous people.”

Archbishop Damphousse said he has sought to better understand the suffering of Indigenous children in the residential schools.

“I have been reading more and listening to better understand the reality of the residential schools, and the impact they had on Indigenous peoples,” Archbishop Damphousse said. 

Damphousse said that the reports of abuses in the schools, alleged by survivors in recent weeks and by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission several years ago, were “shameful.” He added that “as a Church we failed, not only to be authentic witnesses to the goodness of Jesus Christ, but we sinned against our brothers and sisters in our care.” 

“Words cannot undo the hurt or return the deceased children to their families,” he said.

The archbishop said that he has “reached out for help” from area organizations, “to learn how to best support our local Indigenous community.” 

“I listened to requests for concrete actions we can take, including participating and promoting listening encounters with Indigenous people in our archdiocese, working with Indigenous peoples in providing education for clergy and parishioners, facilitated by members of the Indigenous peoples,” he said. 

Other actions, he said, would be announced in the future.

Texas governor signs 'trigger' abortion ban

Tue, 06/22/2021 - 12:01pm
Texas state capitol / Inspired By Maps/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 22, 2021 / 10:01 am (CNA).

The governor of Texas signed two bills last week, to prevent the future closure of churches during disasters and to ban abortions if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed the bills among a series of other measures last week. 

He signed the Human Life Protection Act of 2021, House Bill 1280, on June 16. The bill makes it illegal for anyone to “knowingly perform, induce, or attempt an abortion,” with exceptions for situations where the life of the mother would be at risk in continuing the pregnancy. 

Women who have abortions would not be held liable or penalized under the law. Abortionists could be fined $100,000 for illegal abortions.

The bill would only go into effect, however, 30 days after the Supreme court issued a judgment “overruling, wholly or partly, Roe v. Wade, as modified by Planned Parenthood v. Casey.” The 1973 Roe decision legalized abortion nationwide and prohibited states from banning “pre-viability” abortions. The 1992 Planned Parenthood ruling upheld Roe and established a new test, prohibiting state abortion regulations from imposing an “undue burden” on abortion.

Alternatively, Texas’ “trigger” law would also go into effect after any Supreme Court decision or constitutional amendment that permitted states to ban abortion. 

The Texas Senate passed the bill on May 25 by a vote of 19 to 12. On May 6, the Texas House of Representatives approved the bill by a vote of 81 to 61. The bill was sponsored in the Senate by state Sen. Angela Paxton (R) and in the House by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R). 

The Human Life Protection Act of 2021 is essentially the opposite of bills in states such as New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts, which codified a right ot abortion even if the Supreme Court were to rule otherwise. 

Also on June 16, Abbott signed a bill preventing public agencies and officials from ordering a house of worship closed, or issuing an order that effectively closes churches. 

House Bill 1239 states “A government agency or public official may not issue an order that closes or has the effect of closing places of worship in this state or in a geographic area of this state.”

The bill passed with bipartisan support in both the Texas House of Representatives and in the Texas Senate. The bill passed the Senate on May 21 by a vote of 28 to 3; a week later on May 28 it passed the House by a vote of 113 to 30.