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Survey finds correlation between Catholic Mass attendance, political views 

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 8:00pm

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- A recent survey has found a correlation between the religious practices of Catholic likely voters, their party affiliation, and the political issues they say are important, with Catholics who attend Mass regularly saying they are more concerned about abortion, among other issues.

Conducted Aug. 27 - Sept. 1 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, the poll surveyed 1,212 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.

The poll was conducted before the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which is expected to shake up electoral polling as events unfold. EWTN News and RealClear Opinion Research plan to launch a new poll in mid-October, which is expected to reflect the impact on voters of Ginsburg’s death and the subsequent Supreme Court nomination process.

Among poll participants, 36% say they attended Mass once or more per week before restrictions were placed on worship services due to the coronavirus. Another 42% said they attended Mass between once a month and once a year, and 22% said they attended Mass less than once per year.

Sixty-eight percent said at the time of the poll that Supreme Court appointments were a concern in the upcoming election, while 59% said the same about abortion – although among weekly Mass attendees, concern about abortion jumps to 70%.

When broken down by Mass attendance, the new poll showed a significant difference in presidential preferences, as well as differences in their trust of the two main candidates on various topics.

Respondents overall favored Biden over Trump in the upcoming election 53% to 41%, while Catholics who attend Mass at least once per week were split evenly between Biden and Trump. Biden has led Trump overall among Catholic voters in two previous EWTN News/ RealClear polls, while Trump has maintained a lead among some groups of Catholics, including those who attend Mass more than once a week or daily.

As far as party affiliation, Catholic likely voters who are independent or unaffiliated with a major political party were most likely to attend Mass at least weekly, with 44% saying they did so. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans in the survey said they attend Mass at least weekly, and 31% of Democrats said the same.

A quarter of independents said they accept all of what the Church teaches and try to reflect that in their lives, compared to 17% of Republicans and 11% of Democrats in the survey.

Republicans surveyed were slightly more likely to say they pray at least once per week, with 83% saying they did. Seventy-seven percent of Democrats and 75% of independents in the poll said the same.

Asked about issues of concern in the upcoming election, some 9 out of 10 Catholics polled - regardless of Mass attendance - said they were concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, health care, the economy and jobs.

On each of those issues, poll participants trusted Biden more than Trump. However, the divide between weekly Massgoers was narrower than among Catholics overall, and that demographic was split evenly in its trust of Biden and Trump on the economy.

On China trade policy, respondents were more likely to trust Trump than Biden.

Other significant issues for Catholics included civil unrest, over which 84% voiced concern, as well as race relations and immigration, which were each listed by just over three-fourths of poll participants as areas of concern. Sixty percent listed religious freedom as a concern in the upcoming election.

Catholics who attend Mass at least once per week were more likely to be concerned about race relations, immigration, and religious freedom than those who attend Mass less often.

 

Recalling the unlikely Ginsburg-Scalia friendship

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 7:15pm

Denver Newsroom, Sep 21, 2020 / 05:15 pm (CNA).- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week at age 87, is remembered as a hero of the political left— a self-described feminist who made a name for herself by advocating for women’s equality, and for socially liberal positions such as legalized abortion and same-sex marriage.

She was, in some ways, the last person you might expect to be close friends with a conservative, committed Catholic.

But in fact, Ginsburg had a warm friendship with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia— a conservative icon and devout Catholic, who died in 2016.

“Their friendship can offer Americans an important lesson in these tense times. They remind us that we share a lot more than politics,” Scalia’s son, Chris, told CNA late last year.

“There's a lot more to life than political opinion. It is possible to disagree with somebody, to have different outlooks on life and politics and the law and your profession, but focus instead on what you have in common, and the things in life that you both enjoy, and focus on those things, and develop a real friendship out of those things.”

Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of an Italian immigrant, and grew up in New York City. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986, and served until his death at age 79 in 2016.

Ginsburg also grew up in New York; she was born in 1933 and raised in a Jewish home. President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court in 1993.

Famously, Scalia and his wife would spend every New Years Eve throughout the 1980s with the Ginsburgs, Chris said, sometimes staying at their house talking, laughing, and debating until four in the morning.

Some years, Ginsburg’s husband would cook for dinner the venison that Scalia had gathered on his post-Christmas hunting trip.

In the minds of Scalia’s children, “the Ginsburgs were just this couple my parents got to know and really just enjoyed spending time with,” Chris said.

Another of Scalia’s sons, Fr. Paul, a priest of the diocese of Arlington, described his father as a strong personality, a strong intellect, and an unabashed contrarian who loved to debate.

“He was very much a ‘man in full’ as the saying goes, and had a broad variety of interests, from hunting and fishing to the opera,” Fr. Paul told CNA.

His father also was a proud Catholic, who loved the Mass, the liturgy, and the Church's intellectual tradition, the priest said.

Scalia’s love of debate was one of the things that drew him to Ginsburg— a woman with whom he disagreed on many things, including many aspects of the law. But Scalia admired Ginsburg’s determination, especially in an era when it was harder for women to achieve the career success that Ginsburg attained.

“She was a sparring partner with him…My father liked people who would match him, and who would push back,” Father Paul noted.

“He would hire clerks who would challenge him on things. He wanted that. He wanted that intellectual engagement, because he knew that it was good for him. It would test his line of thought and his principles.”

As the longest serving justice on the bench at the time of his death, Justice Scalia is remembered for his strong emphasis on interpreting the law as it was originally written and intended. Ginsburg, in contrast, believed in a “living Constitution” that could be adapted to the times. The two frequently criticized each other’s legal reasoning and opinions.

In their nearly 23 years together on the bench, they heard and debated hugely consequential cases having to do with such issues as abortion, same-sex marriage, and the 2000 presidential election.

When asked about their friendship in a 2014 interview, Justice Scalia seemed to brush off suggestions that it was somehow extraordinary.

“I have never gotten angry at Ruth or at any of my colleagues because of the way they voted in an opinion. I mean, if you cannot disagree with your colleagues on the law without taking it personally, you ought to get another day job,” Scalia said.

“It’s just not the kind of a job that will allow you to behave that way. Ruth and I disagree on the law all the time. It’s never had anything to do with our friendship.”

Another facet of the Scalia-Ginsburg friendship was a mutual sense of humor, Scalia’s sons said. Scalia possessed a rich sense of humor, and loved to sing and tell jokes.

“I think one of the reasons Justice Ginsburg liked my father is that he cracked her up...She said that very few people could make her laugh out loud; basically it was her husband, and my father,” Chris said.

Scalia and Ginsburg first struck up a friendship in the 1980s, when they served together on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Chris said Scalia used to whisper jokes to Ginsburg during arguments, and she would have to pinch herself to keep from laughing out loud.

When they again sat together on the bench, this time on the Supreme Court, Scalia would pass notes to Ginsburg with jokes or funny comments on them.

“I think it strikes us as weird in part because we live in such polarized times, and because they are themselves kind of heroes of very different sides— [Ginsburg] is a legend for the left, and my father is kind of the equivalent for the conservative legal movement. So I think that makes it even stranger to people,” Chris said.

“Obviously they had big differences as far as their jurisprudence went. But it’s really not that strange when you consider the many things they had in common.”

These similarities included growing up in New York around the same time, enjoying good food and wine, and a love of opera.

There even exists a comedic opera about the two justices, called Scalia/Ginsburg, written by a graduate of the Yale School of Music-turned-law school student. The opera includes many jokes and gags that riff on the two’s intellectual and philosophical differences, but also includes moments of unity between the two characters, including a heartwarming duet.

Obviously, there were elements of their worldviews— very significant elements— that Ginsburg and Scalia did not share. Scalia was a devout Catholic, and Ginsburg and her husband Marty were secular Jews.

Still, Father Paul noted that since Scalia was so committed to living out his faith, their friendship doubtless gave Ginsburg a chance to encounter a truly lived Catholicism— and it is clear that she respected that.

“I think my father was aware of giving good witness to the Catholic faith. That was part of who he was. So in his friendship with her, that was going to be part of it...And I think this is the beginning of evangelization: simply demonstrating the ability to be a serious Catholic, but also capable of friendship, and friendship with somebody who is different and who disagrees,” Father Paul said.

 

Knights of Columbus donates to vandalized Brooklyn parish

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 6:09pm

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 04:09 pm (CNA).- The Knights of Columbus has contributed thousands of dollars to a Brooklyn parish following an act of vandalism earlier this month.

The Knights of Columbus announced Sept. 21 a $10,000 donation to Our Lady of Solace Church. An unknown perpetrator destroyed a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the parish Sept. 11.

“The desecration of our Catholic statues and churches is a grievous crime against all people who value religious freedom,” said Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight.

“Together with Pope Francis, our bishops and faithful everywhere, we stand against violence, hatred and bigotry.”

Father Javier Flores, the parish administrator, said the gift was “overwhelming” and expressed hope that a replacement statue would be erected before Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast, Dec. 12.

The parish has been struggling financially since the pandemic has reduced tithing, WLNY reported.

According to the church’s security camera, a man climbed the fence in front of the church, toppled a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and then tossed the statue onto the sidewalk.

“Who knows mentally what’s going on with that person in that moment, but you don’t do stuff like that. This is vandalism,” said Coney Island resident Sara Marerro, according to WLNY.

Marerro said an onlooker tried to place the statue back in its proper place, and the two men got into an argument. 

“The other guy came trying to put the statue back. And that’s when they started fighting because the other guy, they were drunk,” Marerro said.

John Quaglione, deputy press secretary for the Diocese of Brooklyn, said the statue often attracts visitors, especially each Sept. 11

“To attack the Blessed Mother on 9/11 in broad daylight is not only brazen, it’s a direct assault of the people that were walking by that day wanted to have a moment of prayer to themselves, wanted to remember someone they may have lost,” Quaglione told WLNY.

The New York City Police Department has offered a $2,500 reward for any relevant information on the man who destroyed the statue.

Vandalism cases at Catholic churches have recently been on the rise throughout the United States.

Isaiah Cantrell, 30, was arrested after he walked into St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso Sept. 15 and proceeded to smash a nearly 90-year-old statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that was displayed behind the altar.

Chandler Johnson, 23, was arrested for vandalizing the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Tioga, La., Sept. 11. For over two hours, Johnson vandalized the church, breaking at least six windows, beating several metal doors, and destroying numerous statues around the parish grounds.

On July 10, a statue of the Virgin Mary at Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in Queens was defaced by graffiti. Security footage shows an individual approaching the 100-year-old statue shortly after 3 a.m. Friday morning and daubing the word “IDOL” down its length.

Will Catholics return to Mass after the pandemic? Many want to go more often

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 6:08pm

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 04:08 pm (CNA).- The coronavirus pandemic is affecting the way many Catholics think about their faith, a new study has found, and just over half of Catholic likely voters say that once restrictions are lifted, they plan to attend Mass more frequently than they did before the pandemic.

Sixty-four percent of Catholics surveyed said the pandemic has made them think “a lot” differently about what is important in life, while an additional 27% said it has had “some” impact on their perspective. Only 9% said the pandemic has not affected how they think about what is important in life.

The poll, conducted Aug. 27 - Sept. 1 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, surveyed 1,212 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.

Among poll participants, 36% said they attended Mass once or more per week before restrictions were placed on worship services due to the coronavirus. Another 42% said they attended Mass between once a month and once a year, and 22% said they attended Mass less than once per year.

Just over half of those surveyed said that once restrictions are lifted, they plan to attend Mass more frequently than they did before the pandemic. A little more than one-third said they will continue attending Mass with the same frequency, and about 1 in 8 said they will attend Mass less often than they did before.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said the coronavirus has made them think differently about their faith.

Hispanic respondents were most likely to say the pandemic has influenced how they view their faith, with 72% saying it has, compared to 54% of white non-Hispanics and 56% of Black non-Hispanics.

Of those who attended Mass at least once per week before virus restrictions were enacted, 73% said the pandemic has affected their view of their faith, compared to 58% of those who attended Mass monthly or yearly, and 48% who attended Mass less than once per year.

Overall, 44% said their faith has increased since the pandemic began, while 10% said their faith has decreased, and 46% said it has stayed about the same.

Nearly 1 in 5 young adults – those between 18 and 34 years old – said their faith has decreased during the pandemic, compared to fewer than 1 in 10 respondents age 35-54 and 1 in 25 over the age of 54.

Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they have found themselves closer to God during the pandemic, and 93% said they have grown closer to their family.

The inability to attend Mass due to restrictions put in place during the pandemic has been disturbing for the majority of Catholics surveyed. Overall, 71% said they found the experience distressing. Older respondents were more likely to be distressed by the inability to attend Mass than young adults were.

Frequency of Mass attendance before the pandemic was correlated with concern over having to miss Mass. However, even among those who said their Catholic faith has little to no influence in their life, the majority said they were distressed to be unable to attend Mass during the pandemic.

Fifty-eight percent of Catholics surveyed said they feel safe returning to Mass under the current conditions in their state. Comfort levels were highest in the Midwest and lowest in the Western region of the country.

Sixty-four percent of those who attended Mass at least once a week before the pandemic said they feel safe returning to church, compared to 45% of those who previously attended Mass monthly or yearly.

Two-thirds of white, non-Hispanic Catholics said they feel safe returning to Mass currently, while fewer than half of Black and Hispanic Catholics answered similarly.

Overall, 42% approve of how Donald Trump has responded to the pandemic, while 57% disapprove. Joe Biden’s approval rating on the pandemic was 48% among poll participants, with 36% disapproving.

The U.S. bishops’ response to the pandemic met with a 38% approval rating, while 22% said they disapproved. Another 40% were unsure of how to rate the bishops’ response.

 

Catholic judge Barbara Lagoa on the shortlist of Supreme Court nominees

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 5:05pm

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 03:05 pm (CNA).-  

President Donald Trump’s shortlist of potential nominees to the Supreme Court includes Judge Barbara Lagoa, a Catholic who has spoken about how her faith has shaped her legal career.

Lagoa, 52, was born in Miami and is the daughter of Cuban immigrants. Trump appointed Lagoa to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta in late 2019. She had previously served as a Justice on the Florida Supreme Court, the first Hispanic woman to do so.

President Donald Trump announced Monday that he would announce a nominee by Sept. 26 to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday evening at 87.

In addition to an existing White House list of two dozen potential Supreme Court nominees, Trump added 20 more names Sept. 9, including three sitting U.S. senators.

Trump said that he was “looking at five, probably four, but I'm looking at five very seriously” options to replace Ginsburg. Trump had also said he will nominate a woman for the position.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic, is widely reported to be the front-runner in the president’s deliberations regarding a nominee, but Lagoa is also on Trump’s shortlist, and Florida lawmakers are said to be advocating for her appointment.

Lagoa, who has three children, has spoken about the importance of the Catholic faith in her own life.

Speaking at an October 2019 dinner for the Thomas More Society, a Catholic lawyers’ organization, Lagoa praised the group’s namesake saint as a model for Catholic law professionals, who she said should not compartmentalize their professional lives from their spiritual lives.

“I suggest that in order to be a good Catholic advocate, one should start with St. Thomas More,” Lagoa told the attorneys. More, the patron saint of attorneys, is hailed for his commitment to his conscience and to Catholic doctrine, which lead eventually to martyrdom.

“It is more than going to Mass every Sunday, and to me at least, it means having a personal relationship with God that in turn informs how we treat others,” she said of her Catholic faith.

Following More’s humility in legal practice “starts with reminding ourselves, even when it is hardest, of the dignity of each human being — even the most difficult opposing counsel — and it also starts with reminding ourselves that none of us are perfect and that we ourselves can contribute to or exacerbate a difficult situation,” she said.

Lagoa also urged lawyers to ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the gifts of wisdom, counsel and fortitude, in daily life, according to the Florida Catholic.

Lagoa has also been outspoken about the importance of her own Catholic education, having attended Catholic elementary and high school in Miami.

As a Florida Supreme Court Justice, she took part in a major ruling reversing a judge’s decision striking down a Florida law that requires that people with past serious criminal convictions pay all fines, restitution and legal fees before regaining the right to vote, NBC News reported.

Lagoa is married and a mother of three.

"I think the most important thing I can tell women about their leadership roles is the thing I tell my three daughters, which is: do not be afraid of failure, do not be afraid to make mistakes, be bold, and take risks,” she said in an April 2019 interview.

“That's the one thing I can tell you about all women who are in positions of leadership; they all have taken risks...Nothing is ever perfect. Just do it, and you will be happy that you did. Maybe you will fail initially, but failure also leads to learning."

Since Justice Ginsburg’s death last week, pro-life and pro-abortion voices have made it clear that any nominee’s stance on abortion will be a key issue. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz has described Lagoa as “very pro-life, reliably pro-life.”

Lagoa said in written answers to the Senate upon her nomination to the appeals court that she believes Roe v. Wade is “settled law” and that as an appellate court judge, she “would faithfully follow it as I would follow all precedent of the Supreme Court.”

“I am particularly mindful of the fact that under our constitutional system, it is for the legislature, and not the courts, to make the law. It is the role of judges to apply, not to alter, the work of the people's representatives. And it is the role of judges to interpret our constitution and our statutes as they are written,” Lagoa said in a speech after being appointed to the Florida Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade and removes the inferred constitutional protection for abortion, the legality of abortion would be subject to state-by-state regulation.

As many as a dozen states, including New York and California, have enshrined a right to abortion in their own constitutions. Other states, such as Arkansas, have “trigger laws” on the books that would automatically ban abortion entirely if the case were overturned.

On Saturday, Americans United for Life, a major pro-life organization, endorsed Judge Barrett and urged President Trump to nominate her.

Trump’s likely nomination of a Supreme Court Justice to replace Ginsburg has become a matter of political controversy, in an already fractious U.S. political and social context.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged Friday that a Trump Supreme Court nominee will be voted on for confirmation by the United States Senate, even while there are fewer than seven weeks until the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Democratic leaders have pushed back, and pointed to McConnell’s refusal to consider Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in March 2016, seven months before that year’s presidential contest. At the time, Republicans said that it would be more appropriate to wait until after the November election to fill the Court vacancy.

McConnell defended his decision Friday night, saying that “in the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.”

Supreme Court: Full docket of religious liberty cases during nomination fight

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 3:00pm

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- As the Trump Administration looks to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, the coming judicial session features a slate packed with religious freedom cases.

The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday created the first opening on the Court during a fall or spring term since 2017; the Court’s opening conference for the fall is on Sept. 29.

The Court also announced on Sept. 16 that it will begin its fall term hearing oral arguments telephonically and not in-person, a continuation of its extraordinary policy from last spring that was due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Perhaps the most notable religious freedom case this term, that of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, will be heard on Nov. 4. A decision could impact faith-based adoption and foster care agencies around the country which are affected by state and local non-discrimination ordinances.

In 2018, the city of Philadelphia notified Catholic Social Services with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, as well as Bethany Christian Services, that their policies of not working with same-sex couples on foster care placements were discriminatory; the city stopped contracting with both services.

Later in the year, Bethany Christian said that while the organization’s religious beliefs on marriage remained the same, it would begin working with same-sex couples. Catholic Social Services, however, did not alter its policy and has not had any new foster care placements through the city.

Sharonell Fulton and Toni Simms-Busch, who have fostered more than 40 children and who partnered with Catholic Social Services, brought the case against the city that is currently before the Supreme Court.

Another religious freedom case pending before the Supreme Court, Dalberiste v. GLE Associates, involves a lawsuit by a Seventh-Day Adventist, Mitche Dalberiste, who is seeking a religious accommodation for the technician job for which he was hired.

The job reportedly required employees to serve 12-hour shifts seven days a week for a period of time, but Dalberiste requested leave from sundown on Fridays until sundown on Saturdays, to observe the Sabbath. He filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) when the job offer was rescinded.

Becket is also representing three Muslim men, Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah, and Naveed Shinwari, who were placed on the FBI’s No-Fly list in order to pressure them to act as informants on Muslim communities.

Becket is arguing that individual government officials can be held liable for damages in Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) cases, or where they unlawfully violate someone’s religious freedom.

The group Alliance Defending Freedom is also bringing a college free speech case to the Court, and is petitioning for the Court to consider a pro-life speech case.

In Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, a student at Georgia Gwinnett College sued over the college’s restrictions on the space where he could evangelize fellow students; while using the limited space, he was also told by a campus police officer to stop and was charged with “disorderly conduct.” The school altered its policy, but Uzuegbunam sued, alleging the previous violation of his free speech.

There are also multiple cases which the Supreme Court has not yet taken up, but which Becket and others are asking it to consider.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is asking the Supreme Court to hear the case of Nikki Bruni and other pro-life sidewalk counselors, who has challenged Pittsburgh’s 15-foot “buffer zone” outside abortion clinics; they were banned from speaking with women or praying within the zone, which included sidewalks and streets.

ADF has also petitioned the Court to consider the case of the Michigan non-profit Thomas More Law Center, which litigates religious freedom, family, and life issues. 

In 2012, the California attorney general’s office demanded that the center provide the names and addresses of its California supporters.

Proclaim 'universality of salvation', Archbishop Gomez says at immigrant Mass

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 12:23pm

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 10:23 am (CNA).- The US needs to hear the proclamation of the unity of nations and the universality of salvation, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles preached Sunday during a Mass recognizing immigrants.

“In this moment, I believe God is calling our immigrant Church to be a light to our immigrant nation,” the archbishop said during his homily during Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles Sept. 20.

“He is calling us to proclaim what St. Paul proclaimed, what the Catholic Church has proclaimed since the day of Pentecost – the unity of the nations, the universality of salvation. The mercy and forgiveness of God that is available to every person, of every nation under heaven.”

He continued: “Our great nation still needs to hear this good news! That no matter what the color of your skin, or the blood of your race, or the language you speak – you are a child of God. And Jesus Christ died for you, offered his body and blood for you.”

The Mass of the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time was said “in Recognition of All Immigrants”.

It came amid the Archdiocese of Los Angeles' Sept. 18-26 novena meant to prepare for the 2020 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, observed Sept. 27. The archdiocese has held an annual Day in Recognition of All Immigrants since 2013.

The celebration includes a 60-mile walking pilgrimage tracing the path St. Junipero Serra walked as he founded the first nine mission churches of California.

Archbishop Gomez preached that the Mass was held “to praise God our Father and celebrate our identity as children of God whom he has called from every nation and race to build his Kingdom here in our country.”

The reading at Mass tell us “that our lives have a purpose in [Christ's] plan of love.”

The meaning of our lives is that “we belong to God. He gives us life so that we can serve Christ, so that we can labor and bear fruit in his vineyard, which is the Kingdom that he has planted and is growing in the world.”

“God is One and the human race that he created is one,” he excaimed. “But he creates us as 'many' – many races, many nationalities, many languages, and ethnic cultures.”

God delights in humans' “variety and diversity,” the archbishop said. “And yet, for all this diversity that we can see in God’s vineyard, we are still one. One people, one family.”

He said St. Paul preached that God is Lord over every nation, and that we are his children.

“In this moment in God’s vineyard in America, I think this is a powerful message that our Lord is calling us to bring to our neighbors,” Archbishop Gomez said.

He reflected on the current conversation about racism in America, and said the Church is to be a light amid it.

“In Christ we have one love, one hope, one destiny. And in Christ, we have one calling.We are called to this beautiful duty to live for him and to share his teaching, to bear fruit for his vineyard, his Kingdom.”

The archbishop said that “no matter who you are or how you came here, today once more he is sending you into his vineyard. We have a responsibility … He is sending each of us into this vineyard in this moment to labor for unity and justice, for the right to life, for equal opportunity and freedom for every person.”

The labor of the vineyard is first of all internal, Archbishop Gomez said: “We need to root out all the intolerance and envy and selfishness from our hearts … Let’s ask for the grace to love with a generous love, to show the same mercy and forgiveness to others as God shows to us. We need to build strong communities and strong families; we need to raise up our children to love and serve the Lord.”

He added that he dreams that the archdiocese will “have vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life coming from every race and nationality to serve all people!”

“This is the great mission that we have as Catholics, as the Church in this moment. Let us go out today into his vineyard and let us renew our country in the beautiful vision of God and make America truly a home for peoples of all nations and races,” the archbishop concluded.

Trump to announce Supreme Court nominee by Saturday

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 12:00pm

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 21, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he expects to name his nominee for the Supreme Court by the end of the week. The nomination, Trump’s third to the highest court, follows the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose funeral services will be held this week. 

Speaking to the television program “Fox & Friends,” President Trump said that he is “going to make a decision on either Friday or Saturday,” and that he “will announce it either Friday or Saturday, and then the work begins.” The president added that he would not make the announcement earlier “in all due respect” for the late justice’s memorial arrangements. 

Justice Ginsburg died September 18, at the age of 87. She had previously been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Trump said that he was “looking at five, probably four, but I'm looking at five very seriously” options to replace Ginsburg. Previously, Trump had said he would nominate a woman for the position. 

He said two of the people he was considering were “fantastic,” but did not elaborate further. 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced on Monday that Ginsburg will lie in state at the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol on Friday, following two days of lying in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday. Ginsburg will lie underneath the Portico, and the public will be permitted to view the casket outdoors. 

As per tradition, Ginsburg’s former law clerks will serve as her honorary pallbearers. 

According to the New York Times, Ginsburg will be buried in a private ceremony alongside her husband at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic mother of seven, is widely reported to be the front-runner on the president’s shortlist of prospective nominees.

Barrett, a federal judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, is reported to lead the president’s short list, and was also a contender for Trump’s second Supreme Court nomination in 2018, before the president nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

According to Axios, Trump in 2018 said of Barrett that he was “saving her for Ginsburg” in explanation of his decision not to appoint her to the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Appointed a federal judge in 2017, Barrett had been a professor at Notre Dame’s law school until her nomination was confirmed. Barrett has twice been honored as “Distinguished Professor of the Year” at Notre Dame, and was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

As a nominee to the federal bench, Barrett was pointedly questioned by Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee in 2017 on how her Catholic faith would influence her decisions as a judge on cases of abortion and same-sex marriage.

During confirmation hearings, Senator Diane Feinstein said of Barrett's Catholicism “the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”

“You’re controversial because many of us that have lived our lives as women really recognize the value of finally being able to control our reproductive systems,” she said. “And Roe entered into that, obviously.”

Barrett repeatedly said that as a judge, she would uphold the law of the land, but many pro-life groups believe she would be open to overturning the precedent of Roe vs. Wade, and uphold state restrictions on abortion.

Bishop Burbidge: The pandemic is our ‘Pentecost moment’

Sun, 09/20/2020 - 6:12pm

CNA Staff, Sep 20, 2020 / 04:12 pm (CNA).- In a pastoral letter this past week, Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia said the coronavirus pandemic has prompted advances in sharing the Gospel message digitally, leading the Church to a “21st century Pentecost moment.”

“God is with us. This is the message of hope that we want to shout from the rooftops, that we want to beam over the airwaves, that we want to put on the front page of our publications and post on our social media accounts. Emmanuel: God is with us,” Burbidge wrote Sept. 15, in a letter entitled, "In Tongues, All Can Hear."

“The trauma of the pandemic, as well as the economic upheaval that has followed, has been and continues to be an opportunity for the Church to seize the moment...The Spirit has and will continue to enable the Church, even in a time of lockdown and isolation, to help us overcome our feelings of fear, loneliness, and vulnerability by reminding us that God is with us, always.”

The current pandemic, which has led to physical separation between people, in some ways mirrors the situation in which many of the first Christians found themselves, he said.

“Christians were apart in the distant communities of the first century, in isolation as prisoners for the faith locked away in cells and awaiting execution, or in remote communities far from a priest or the sacraments for extended periods of time,” he noted.

Despite this, the Christian community at the time remained spiritually close through communication and prayers for one another. In the same way, Catholics have found creative ways to communicate during the current pandemic— particularly through digital means such as livestreaming and social media— and to remain spiritually close, the bishop said.

“At a time when many felt alone, the gifts of the Church were made available to them in new ways,” he said, mentioning the many creative ways priests have managed to bring the sacraments— including the Eucharist, Confession, and Anointing of the Sick— to people during the pandemic.

The first followers of Christ communicated by deeds, Burbidge said, setting an example with their joy, sincerity, and their treatment of one another. They also proclaimed the Gospel with words, inviting people to join them and challenging the authorities to change their behavior.

The bishop pointed particularly to the example of St. Paul, who traveled relentlessly, preaching to Jewish and Gentile communities, debating Athens’ worldly philosophers, and addressing Roman authorities.

When authorities threatened the apostles, ordering them to cease preaching in public about the Good News of the Lord, Sts. Peter and John replied: “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

The manner of fulfilling the Great Commission has evolved over the years, Burbidge noted, but the mandate itself, to proclaim the Kingdom, has never changed.

Despite advances in mass communication over the years, the proclamation of the Gospel remained, essentially, “the few talking to the many.” With the advent of the digital revolution, Burbidge said, the Church saw both risks and opportunities in the internet, social media, and the like, which can allow for evangelization but also bullying and manipulation.

Digital communication “appeals to the best and worst of human nature,” he said.

“The Church recognized that special effort would be necessary by all her members to use these tools effectively and wisely, so that true and accurate information would not get lost in a sea of misinformation and opinion,” he said.

“This is a critical time for the Church, beset as she is by many of the same stresses that are affecting secular institutions. Yet it is important that the Church maintain and develop the capacity to tell her story.”

This “21st century Pentecost moment” brought on by the pandemic, Burbidge said, has underscored the need for good communication in the Church across all forms of media, in order to invite people into the fullness of the Gospel.

“New forms of media cannot be the only tools we use,” he clarified. “The Church has communicated and evangelized over the centuries, using all available means to mobilize and inspire, to inform and explain. Some tools are good for mobilizing people. Other tools are good for informing, forming, and educating at greater depth, teaching Catholics to see the world through eyes of faith.”

“The Good News of the Gospel will set us free, but it is not to be marketed like a consumer product or adapted without thought to the razzle-dazzle of new technologies,” he said. “It is not propaganda. It is not spin. While the Church embraces new means of communication, she must not be enslaved by trends nor edit her message to be more popular or fashionable.”

 

 

 

 

Judge Amy Barrett's charismatic Catholicism- Who are the People of Praise?

Sat, 09/19/2020 - 5:00pm

Washington D.C., Sep 19, 2020 / 03:00 pm (CNA).-  

After the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reports have circulated that Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a federal judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, is a leading candidate for the country’s high court.

Barrett, a Catholic, was appointed a federal judge in 2017. During and after her confirmation process, questions were raised about her faith, and about her affiliation with a group called the “People of Praise,” a charismatic “covenant community.”

People of Praise has been referred to in the media as a “cult,” and criticized for a practice, which has since been changed, that called leaders “heads” and “handmaidens,” both of which are references to Scripture.

But what is the “People of Praise?” Is it a cult? CNA spoke with current and former members to find out.

Bishop Peter Smith is a member of the Brotherhood of the People of Praise, an association of priests connected to the group, founded with the support of the late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. Smith was ordained a bishop on April 29, 2014.

People of Praise was founded in 1971 as part of the era's “great emergence of lay ministries and lay movements in the Catholic Church,” Smith told CNA.

The group began with 29 members who formed a “covenant”- an agreement, not an oath, to follow common principles, to give five percent of annual income to the group, and to meet regularly for spiritual, social, and service projects.

Covenant communities- Protestant and Catholic- emerged across the country in the 1970s, as a part of the Charismatic Renewal movement in American Christianity.

While most People of Praise members are Catholic, the group is officially ecumenical; people from a variety of Christian denominations can join. Members of the group are free to attend the church of their choosing, including different Catholic parishes, Smith explained.

“We're a lay movement in the Church,” Smith explained. “There are plenty of these. We continue to try and live out life and our calling as Catholics, as baptized Christians, in this particular way, as other people do in other callings or ways that God may lead them into the Church."

Cardinal George, who was widely reputed among bishops for orthodoxy, wrote of the group: “In my acquaintance with the People of Praise, I have found men and women dedicated to God and eager to seek and do His divine will. They are shaped by love of Holy Scripture, prayer and community; and the Church’s mission is richer for their presence.”

The group was tapped to assist with the formation of deacons in at least one diocese, and several members have been ordained deacons.

While Barrett is known for her judicial conservatism, particularly on life issues, the group is not partisan. A person’s political viewpoints do not play a role in membership, Smith told CNA.

“I know for a fact there are both registered Republicans and Democrats as well as independents in the People of Praise,” said Smith.

There are an estimated 2,000 adult members of People of Praise. The organization has priest members in two dioceses, and operates three schools in the United States.

Barrett’s Catholic faith came under scrutiny in 2017, when she was nominated for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. During a confirmation hearing, she was asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) if she was an “orthodox Catholic” who believed in the Church’s teachings. Feinstein also said that “the dogma lives loudly” in Barrett- that phrase has become which a rallying cry of sorts among many Catholics. #DogmaLivesLoudly has even become a popular hashtag.

Some former members of the People of Praise allege that leaders have exerted undue influence over family decision-making, or pressured the children of members to commit to the group before being able to make that decisions with maturity.

One critic, philosopher Adrian Reimers, has written that the group has made “serious errors” in its theological approach.

People of Praise does not publicy disclose its membership, and declined CNA's request for comment.

Acknowledging the criticisms the group has faced, a former member of People of Praise told CNA that “the rank and file People of Praise members are very, very good people, wholeheartedly dedicated to the Lord,” he said.

Bishop Smith rejected the idea that there is anything out of the ordinary or inappropriate about People of Praise. If affiliation with the group were something to be concerned about, he said, he would not have been made a bishop.

“When one becomes a bishop, they check your background out very, very closely,” Smith said. “My People of Praise affiliation was very clear in my consideration for appointment as bishop, so the Holy Father Pope Francis appointed me bishop, knowing full well my involvement with People of Praise.”

“If this was a nefarious group, I certainly wouldn't be part of it, and I certainly wouldn't be in the position that I’m in as well."

 

A version of this story was first published in July 2018, when Barrett was first on the shortlist for a Supreme Court seat. It has since been updated.

 

'Dogma lives loudly in you' - Amy Coney Barrett's 2017 confirmation hearing

Sat, 09/19/2020 - 4:25pm

Washington D.C., Sep 19, 2020 / 02:25 pm (CNA).- Federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic mother of seven, is on President Donald Trump’s shortlist for a Supreme Court nominee, as the president makes plans to replace on the court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday evening.

Barrett was appointed a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. In her confirmation hearing, the judge faced hostile questions about her Catholic faith, prompting outrage and frustration among some Catholic leaders.

The nominee appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee Sept. 6, 2017.

Questions from some Democratic senators focused on how Barrett’s Catholic faith might influence her decisions in cases involving abortion and same-sex marriage.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), ranking member of the committee, told Barrett directly that her Catholic beliefs were concerning, as they might influence her judicial decisions on abortion.

 

WATCH: Sen. Feinstein to appeals court nominee Amy Barrett, @NotreDame law prof/#Catholic mother of 7: "The dogma lives loudly within you." pic.twitter.com/mpDgNZGRsa

— Jason Calvi (@JasonCalvi) September 6, 2017  

“Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that dogma and law are two different things, and I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different,” Feinstein said.

“And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”

Before making that point, Feinstein praised Barrett personally, saying the nominee was “amazing to have seven children and do what you do.”

The senator pivoted quickly, however, to characterizing Barrett as a “controversial” nominee, “because you have a long history of believing that your religious beliefs should prevail” over the law.

“You’re controversial because many of us that have lived our lives as women really recognize the value of finally being able to control our reproductive systems,” she said. “And Roe entered into that, obviously.”

Barrett insisted that as a judge, she would honor binding precedents, and would not let her religious beliefs inappropriately alter her judicial decisions.

In the same hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) grilled Barrett over her use of the term “orthodox Catholic” in an article she had co-authored as a law student. Durbin took umbrage with the term, and suggested that Barrett did not think persons who dissent from Church teaching on marriage to be truly Catholic.

“I’m a product of 19 years of Catholic education. And every once in a while, Holy Mother the Church has not agreed with a vote of mine. And has let me know,” Durbin told Barrett. “You use a term in that article – or you both use a term in that article -- I’d never seen before. You refer to ‘orthodox Catholics.’ What’s an orthodox Catholic?”

Barrett pointed to a footnote in the article that admitted it was “an imperfect term,” and that the article was talking about the hypothetical case of “a judge who accepted the Church’s teaching” on the death penalty and had a “conscientious objection” to execution.

“Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” Durbin asked Barrett, who replied that “I am a faithful Catholic,” adding that “my personal Church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.”

Durbin, who was in 2004 prohibited from receiving Holy Communion because of his stance on abortion, next said that “there are many people who might characterize themselves ‘orthodox Catholics,’ who now question whether Pope Francis is an ‘orthodox Catholic.’ I happen to think he’s a pretty good Catholic.”

“I agree with you,” Barrett replied, to which Durbin responded, “Good. Then that’s good common ground for us to start with.”

He also asked Barrett how she would rule on a case involving a “same-sex marriage,” given the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent from the 2013 Obergefell decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

“From beginning to end, in every case, my obligation as a judge would be to apply the rule of law, and the case that you mentioned would be applying Obergefell, and I would have no problem adhering to it,” she said.

After the hearing, Barrett’s nomination was confirmed, and the former Notre Dame law professor took up her position as a judge.

But Catholic leaders said the questions she faced were disturbing.

“This smacks of the worst sort of anti-Catholic bigotry,” Dr. Chad Pecknold, a theology professor at The Catholic University of America, told CNA in 2017.

Pecknold called the hearing “a religious inquisition rather than an adjudication of legal competence for the bench.”

“I submit that the real dogmatists in the room are the ones mounting an inquisition against one of the nation's great legal scholars,” he added.

Other Catholic leaders also decried the questions about Barrett’s faith.

“Such bigotry has no place in our politics and reeks of an unconstitutional religious test for qualification to participate in the judiciary. What these Senators did today was truly reprehensible,” said Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.org.

“Senator Feinstein's shockingly illegitimate line of questioning sends the message that Catholics need not apply as federal judges,” added Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association.

After the hearing, the phrase “The dogma lives loudly” became something of a catchphrase among Catholic supporters of Barrett, and appeared as a hashtag, on coffee mugs and on t-shirts. The hashtag is begun to have a resurgence as speculation that Trump might appoint Barrett to the Supreme Court has intensified.

The president is expected to nominate a justice to the court within a week. Also on his shortlist are several federal judges, and three U.S. Senators.

 

Archbishop Cordileone: San Francisco Mass restrictions ‘mocking God’

Sat, 09/19/2020 - 4:00pm

CNA Staff, Sep 19, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- Catholics in San Francisco marched in Eucharistic processions across the city on Sunday to protest the city’s continued restrictions on public worship.

“For months I have pleaded with the City on your behalf, advocating for your need of the consolation of the Mass, and the consolation you derive from the practice of your faith and connection with your faith community. City Hall ignored us,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said in his homily at an outdoor Mass following the processions Sept. 20.

“It has become clear to me that they just don’t care about you...We have been patiently putting up with unjust treatment long enough, and now it is time to come together to witness to our faith and to the primacy of God, and tell City Hall: No More!”

San Francisco’s restrictions on public worship remain among the strictest in the country. Mayor London Breed announced last week that starting Sept. 14, houses of worship may have 50 people at religious services outdoors. In addition, indoor private prayer is allowed, but only one person at a time is allowed inside.

Breed also said the city will allow indoor services up to a maximum of 25 people by Oct. 1. This is, Cordileone has noted, less than 1% of the capacity of San Francisco’s cathedral.

Previously, the limit for outdoor services had been 12 people, with all indoor services prohibited. The archdiocese covers the city and county of San Francisco— where the cathedral is located— as well as San Mateo and Marin counties.

In contrast, hotels in San Francisco are fully reopened; indoor gyms are set to reopen at 10% capacity; and most retail stores are allowed to operate at 50% capacity, while malls are restricted to 25%. Gyms operated in government buildings for police officers and other government employees have already reopened.

In addition, Archbishop Cordileone has noted, businesses requiring extended, close one-on-one contact reopened Sept. 14, such as hair salons, nail salons and massage parlors, but “we are allowed only one person in church at a time for prayer.”

“One person at a time in this great Cathedral to pray? What an insult. This is a mockery. They are mocking you, and even worse, they are mocking God,” Cordileone said.

Three separate Eucharistic processions Sept. 20 began at St. Anthony, St. Patrick, and Star of the Sea parishes, and converged at United Nations Plaza near San Francisco City Hall before proceeding to the cathedral.

The archdiocese ordered banners for parishioners to carry during the processions; 100 in English, 15 in Spanish, and 5 in Chinese that read: “We Are Essential: Free the Mass!”

At the 11 am Mass celebrated by Archbishop Cordileone, and additional Masses celebrated simultaneously in the cathedral plaza, all 900 spaces prepared for the outdoor Masses were filled, with additional people lining the sidewalks. An archdiocesan spokesperson told CNA that she estimated about 1,500 people were in attendance.

Cordileone said his time as a pastor at a rural, desert parish near the US-Mexico border taught him that caring for the rejected and the downtrodden in society, in this case undocumented immigrants, is an essential part of the Church’s mission.

”The highest law is love of God and love of neighbor, and that law has to take precedence over the human-made law of the state when government would ask us to turn our backs on God or our neighbor in need,” he noted.

“Now in San Francisco, all of us here are being put at the end of the line.  No matter how rich or poor, no matter whether newly arrived or from families that have been here for many generations, it is our Catholic faith that unites us, and it is because of our Catholic faith that we are being put at the end of the line.”

Priests at many parishes around the archdiocese, including the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, are celebrating multiple Masses every Sunday— outside, and spaced out— in order to adapt to the restrictions.

Outdoor Masses pose their own health challenges, as the Bay Area is experiencing some of the worst air quality in the world, due to smoke and other pollutants coming from wildfires ravaging the West Coast.

While Cordileone has said city officials have been “cordial and respectful” in their dialogue with the archdiocese, he said the city still has not responded to the archdiocese’s safety plan— outlining how churches could be safely opened for indoor services— which they submitted in May.

Becket, a religious liberty law firm, has a page tracking restrictions on public worship related to the pandemic. By their estimation, six states— California, Nevada, Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maine— are treating religious activities unequally as compared to similar secular activities.

The City of San Francisco has been closely monitoring Catholic churches in the city and has repeatedly issued warnings to the archdiocese for apparent health order violations

Cordileone said he himself has noted “very few” violations of the city’s health orders by parishes in the archdiocese, although the few that have occurred have garnered heavy criticism in the secular press.

“This willful discrimination is affecting us all. Yes, discrimination, because there is no other word for it,” Cordileone said. 

“We ask: why can people shop at Nordstrom’s at 25% capacity but only one of you at a time is allowed to pray inside of this great Cathedral, your Cathedral?  Is this equality?  No, there is no reason for this new rule except a desire to put Catholics – to put you – at the back of the line.”

Cordileone encouraged Catholics to continue to pray, suggesting the rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, fasting on Fridays, and availing themselves of the sacrament of confession.

In advocating for a safe reopening of indoor Masses, Cordileone has cited a recent article on Mass attendance and COVID-19, authored Aug. 19 by doctors Thomas McGovern, Deacon Timothy Flanigan, and Paul Cieslak for Real Clear Science.

By following public health guidelines, Catholic Churches have largely avoided viral spread during the more than 1 million Masses that have been celebrated across the United States since the lifting of shelter-in-place orders, the doctors found.

They said in their article that there is no evidence that church services are higher risk than similar activities when guidelines are followed, and no coronavirus outbreaks have not yet been linked to the celebration of the Mass.

Even while protesting the city’s apparent unequal application of health restrictions, the archbishop has encouraged his priests to lead their parishes in following the city’s guidelines.

Many of San Francisco’s problems, from homelessness to drugs to crime, stem from an abandonment of God, he said.

“Our blessed Lord is openly mocked to the gleeful grins of the cultural elites. The sacred symbol of the religious habit is blasphemed with glowing approval of those who profess mutual respect and tolerance for others who are different, while they openly discriminate against us.”

“In fighting for justice, we fight for the glory of God. And so I am calling on every Catholic in this City, and this country, to continue to exercise responsible citizenship, to abide by reasonable public health rules, and to continue to serve our community, despite the mockery to which we are being subject in so many different ways. This is God’s way, and this is how I see Catholics serving Our Lord.”

Abortion key issue in Supreme Court nomination process

Sat, 09/19/2020 - 2:08pm

CNA Staff, Sep 19, 2020 / 12:08 pm (CNA).- As speculation mounts over who President Donald Trump will nominate as the next Supreme Court Justice, pro-life and pro-abortion voices are making it clear that the nominee’s stance on abortion will be a key issue.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged Friday that a Trump Supreme Court nominee will be voted on for confirmation by the United States Senate, even while there are fewer than seven weeks until the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic mother of seven, is reported to be Trump’s top choice, according to sources with insider knowledge. 

On Saturday, a major pro-life organization endorsed Barrett and urged President Trump to nominate her.

“At this crucial time in the history of our great nation, it is imperative that a respected nominee is selected who will understand that the role of the High Court is to fairly interpret America’s Constitution and laws according to the meaning and intention of Congress and the Framers, and not seek to write their own value judgments into law,” Catherine Glenn Foster, President & CEO of Americans United for Life, said in a Sept. 19 statement.

“It is a certainty that in the coming years, the Court will be asked to rule on questions fundamental to the functioning of our Republic, including the most important human rights question of our time: the human right to life,” she continued.

“We are confident that if appointed to the Supreme Court, Judge Barrett would prove herself a trusted caretaker of the Constitutional protections extended to every human person in America, including human lives in the womb.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served on the court for more than 27 years, died of pancreatic cancer Sept. 18 at age 87. President Bill Clinton appointed Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in 1993.

She was an outspoken supporter of legal abortion throughout her career, and consistently penned opinions in favor of abortion and contraception, including a dissent in a 2007 case upholding a law that banned partial-birth abortion. She wrote a concurring opinion in a 2016 case which struck down restrictions on abortion clinics in Texas.

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, on Friday praised Ginsburg’s legacy of upholding abortion protections.

“The fate of our rights, our freedoms, our health care, our bodies, our lives, and our country depend on what happens over the coming months,” acting president of Planned Parenthood Alexis McGill Johnson said in a Sept. 18 statement.

“It would be an absolute slap in the face to the millions of Americans who honor and cherish Justice Ginsburg’s legacy if President Trump and Mitch McConnell were to replace her with someone who would undo her life’s work and take away the rights and freedoms for which she fought so hard,” Johnson continued.

Appointed a federal judge in 2017, Barrett had been a professor at Notre Dame’s law school until her nomination was confirmed. Barrett has twice been honored as “Distinguished Professor of the Year” at Notre Dame, and had clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

As a nominee to the federal bench, Judge Barrett was pointedly questioned by Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee in 2017 on how her Catholic faith would influence her decisions as a judge on cases of abortion and same-sex marriage.

According to Axios, Trump in 2018 said of Barrett that he was “saving her for Ginsburg” in explanation of his decision not to appoint her to the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

As pro-lifers have noted in the past, if the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade and removes the inferred constitutional protection for abortion, the legality of abortion would be subject to state-by-state regulation.

As many as a dozen states, including New York and California, have enshrined a right to abortion in their own consitutions. Other states, such as Arkansas, have “trigger laws” on the books that would automatically ban abortion entirely if the case were overturned.

Ginsburg and her husband Marty, who died in 2010, were secular Jews. The couple was noted for their many years of friendship with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and his wife Maureen, who were devout Catholics. 

Catholic Amy Coney Barrett front-runner as Trump signals Supreme Court nomination plans

Sat, 09/19/2020 - 12:00pm

CNA Staff, Sep 19, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- President Donald Trump on Saturday signaled he would soon nominate a potential replacement to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday evening at 87. Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic mother of seven, is widely reported to be the front-runner in the president’s deliberations regarding a nominee.

“.@GOP We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!” the president tweeted Saturday morning.

 

.@GOP We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2020  

Barrett, a federal judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, has been reported to lead the president’s short list, and was also a contender for Trump’s second Supreme Court nomination in 2018, before the president nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

According to Axios, Trump reportedly in 2018 told confidantes of Barrett that he was “saving her for Ginsburg” in explanation of his decision not to appoint her to the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Appointed a federal judge in 2017, Barrett had been a professor at Notre Dame’s law school until her nomination was confirmed. Barrett has twice been honored as “Distinguished Professor of the Year” at Notre Dame, and had clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

As a nominee to the federal bench, Barrett was pointedly questioned by Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee in 2017 on how her Catholic faith would influence her decisions as a judge on cases of abortion and same-sex marriage.

Pro-life groups hailed Barrett’s 2017 appointment to the bench.

Barrett is the mother of seven children, including two adopted from Haiti; one of her children has special needs. She is also reportedly a member of the People of Praise charismatic community, which was criticized as a “cult” during her 2017 confirmation hearings.

Bishop Peter Smith, a member of a related association of priests, told CNA in 2018 that there is not anything unusual or out of the ordinary about the group, which is a “covenant community,” mostly of laity.

“We're a lay movement in the Church,” Smith explained. “There are plenty of these. We continue to try and live out life and our calling as Catholics, as baptized Christians, in this particular way, as other people do in other callings or ways that God may lead them into the Church.”

Whether or not he selects Barrett, Trump’s likely nomination of a Supreme Court Justice to replace GInsburg has become a matter of serious political controversy, in an already fractious U.S. political and social context.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged Friday that a Trump Supreme Court nominee will be voted on for confirmation by the United States Senate, even while there are fewer than seven weeks until the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Democratic leaders have pushed back, and pointed to McConnell’s refusal to consider Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in March 2016, seven months before that year’s presidential contest. At the time, Republicans said that it would be more appropriate to wait until after the November election to fill the Court vacancy.

McConnell defended his decision Friday night, saying that “in the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.”

“By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary, we will keep our promise,” McConnell said.

Also reportedly on Trump’s short list are is 11th Circuit Court judge Britt Grant, 6th Circuit Court Judges Amul Thapar and Joan Larsen, and 10th Circuit Judge Allison Eid.

McConnell: Trump Supreme Court nominee ‘will receive a vote’

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 9:22pm

CNA Staff, Sep 18, 2020 / 07:22 pm (CNA).- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday night that after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Trump Supreme Court nominee will be voted on for confirmation by the United States Senate.

In a statement released Friday night, McConnell said that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

McConnell elaborated on that decision, saying that “in the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.”

“By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary, we will keep our promise,” McConnell said.

In March 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court seat that had been held by Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Republicans did not consider Garland’s nomination, saying that it would be more appropriate to wait until after the November election to fill the Court vacancy.

After his 2017 inauguration, Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch to fill Scalia’s seat, and the nominee was confirmed by the senate.

Senate Democrats have pointed to that 2016 decision in response to McConnell’s Sept. 18 statement.

A Trump appointment could tip the balance of the court to a 6-3 conservative majority, which Republicans have said would lead to the court overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that ensured legal protection for abortion across the U.S.

Trump last week expanded a list of potential judicial nominees under his consideration. At a presidential debate in October 2016, Trump pledged to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. In addition to appointing Gorsuch, in 2018 Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was retiring.

Among the names on the new list are Stewart Kyle Duncan of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals—the former general counsel for the religious freedom firm Becket—and Peter Phipps of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, whose membership in the Knights of Columbus was the subject of tough questions by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) when he was a district court nominee in 2018.  

Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit court, a former professor at the University of Notre Dame and a Catholic mother of seven, was on the existing White House list of nominees.

Pro-life leaders hailed last’s week announcement. Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, said the appointment of pro-life judges to federal courts was “one of President Trump’s greatest accomplishments” of his first term, and that “[w]e anticipate that process will continue in a second term.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List and co-chair of the Trump campaign’s pro-life outreach said that his list “is filled with all-stars.”  

in the first major abortion case before the court during Trump’s presidency, the court struck down Louisiana’s safety regulations of abortion clinics, a blow to pro-life efforts at the state level. While Gorsuch and Kavanaugh ruled in the minority on the decision, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the Court’s four liberal justices against the law.

Ginsburg, who served on the court for more than 27 years, died of pancreatic cancer Sept. 18. She was 87. President Bill Clinton appointed Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in 1993. Ginsburg had previously been an appeals court judge.

 

Catholics respond after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 8:55pm

Denver Newsroom, Sep 18, 2020 / 06:55 pm (CNA).-  

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served on the court for more than 27 years, died of pancreatic cancer Sept. 18. She was 87.

President Bill Clinton appointed Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in 1993. Ginsburg had previously been an appeals court judge.

Ginsburg, who was Jewish, was noted for her friendship with Antonin Scalia, a Catholic and fellow Supreme Court Justice, who died in 2016.

Scalia’s son Christopher tweeted some recollections of his father’s friendship with Ginsburg after her death was announced.

 

I'm very sad to hear about the passing of my parents' good friend, and my father's wonderful colleague, Justice Ginsburg. May her memory be a blessing. I'd like to share a couple of passages that convey what she meant to my dad.../3

— Christopher J. Scalia (@cjscalia) September 18, 2020  

Ginsburg expressed her support for legalized abortion during her 1993 Senate confirmation hearing, as she had also done in previously. Though she was publicly critical before her appointment of the legal reasoning used in Roe v. Wade, Ginsburg consistently penned opinions in favor of abortion and contraception, including a 2007 dissent in a case upholding a law that banned partial-birth abortion. 

Ginsburg’s death could tip the balance of the court to a 6-3 conservative majority, if President Donald Trump nominates a new justice to fill the vacancy left by Ginsburg before the November election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said previously he would try to ensure Senate confirmation of a Trump Supreme Court nominee. Senate Democrats have expressed opposition to any nomination, citing McConnell’s objection to Barack Obama’s March 2016 of Merrick Garland to the court. At the time, Senate Republicans said they would not consider an appointment during an election year.

In a statement released Friday night, McConnell said that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Trump last week expanded a list of potential judicial nominees under his consideration. At a presidential debate in October 2016, Trump pledged to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. In 2017, he nominated Neil Gorsuch to be Scalia’s replacement, and in 2018 he nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was retiring.

Catholics on social media urged prayers for Ginsburg and her family Friday evening.

Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, OP, a civil and canon lawyer and a professor of canon law at St. Patrick’s University and Seminary in California tweeted that: “In our modern divided politics the friendship between Justices Ginsburg and Scalia shone as a model of the respect that people can have for each other, even if they disagree.  May she, now along with him, rest in peace.”

In our modern divided politics the friendship between Justices Ginsburg and Scalia shone as a model of the respect that people can have for each other, even if they disagree. May she, now along with him, rest in peace.

— Fr. Pius Pietrzyk OP (@PiusOP) September 19, 2020  

Many reactions came from pro-life organizations, some of whom expressed their hopes for a pro-life replacement on the court.

“Rest in peace, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Let's pray for the repose of her soul and for her family. Let's continue to pray for our nation,” said Lila Rose, president of the pro-life group Live Action.

 

Rest in peace, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Let's pray for the repose of her soul and for her family. Let's continue to pray for our nation.

— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) September 18, 2020 Americans United for Life, a national pro-life group, noted that despite some positive elements in Ginsburg’s efforts for gender equality, her pro-abortion jurisprudence has left a far more regrettable legacy.

“We are grateful for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s contributions as an advocate prior to being a judge, in bringing down legal barriers to women’s advancement in American society. We are deeply saddened by her death, particularly at this moment in our nation’s history,” the group said on Twitter.

“Abortion is understood for what it is by millions of Americans due to its cruelty and violence. Future generations will not smile on the culture of indifference toward human life that Justice Ginsburg perpetuated [for] women who deserve better...Abortion doesn’t contribute to women’s happiness, and abortion isn’t necessary for women to succeed.”

 

We are grateful for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s contributions as an advocate prior to being a judge, in bringing down legal barriers to women’s advancement in American society. We are deeply saddened by her death, particularly at this moment in our nation’s history. pic.twitter.com/hnLkVsbCBc

— Americans United for Life (@AUL) September 19, 2020  

Pro-life group Students for Life tweeted: “Tonight, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away, and our thoughts are with her family.”

“In partnership with Students for Life Action, we call for President Trump to move quickly with an appointment, in light of her tragic death.”

 

Tonight, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away, and our thoughts are with her family.

In partnership with Students for Life Action, we call for President Trump to move quickly with an appointment, in light of her tragic death. https://t.co/z9kKwPX9om

— studentsforlife (@StudentsforLife) September 19, 2020  

Ginsburg had survived several bouts of cancer before she died surrounded by her family, the Supreme Court said. Her husband, Marty Ginsburg, died in 2010.

 

Mike Pompeo: Holy See's moral witness needed in China

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 8:01pm

CNA Staff, Sep 18, 2020 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- Reflecting Friday on the state of the 2018 Vatican-China deal, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted that the human rights situation in China has deteriorated in recent years, and that the “moral witness” of the Vatican in support of religious believers is sorely needed.

“The Holy See has a unique capacity and duty to focus the world’s attention on human rights violations, especially those perpetrated by totalitarian regimes like Beijing’s. In the late twentieth century, the Church’s power of moral witness helped inspire those who liberated central and eastern Europe from communism,” Pompeo wrote in a Sept. 18 essay at First Things.

“That same power of moral witness should be deployed today with respect to the Chinese Communist Party,” he continued.

“What the Church teaches the world about religious freedom and solidarity should now be forcefully and persistently conveyed by the Vatican in the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s relentless efforts to bend all religious communities to the will of the Party and its totalitarian program.”

Pompeo said the human rights situation in China, especially for religious believers, has “deteriorated severely” under president Xi Jinping, who took office in 2013. He pointed out forced sterilizations and abortions of Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the “abuse of Catholic priests and laypeople,” and the persecution of Protestant house churches, “all of which are parts of a ‘Sinicization’ campaign to subordinate God to the Party while promoting Xi himself as an ultramundane deity.”

He said that “now more than ever, the Chinese people need the Vatican’s moral witness and authority in support of China’s religious believers.”

The US Secretary of State also observed that Vatican and Chinese diplomats are meeting to negotiate a renewal of the 2018 deal; a renewal which is being confidently predicted in both Rome and Beijing,

“Two years on, it’s clear that the Sino-Vatican agreement has not shielded Catholics from the Party’s depredations, to say nothing of the Party’s horrific treatment of Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong devotees, and other religious believers,” Pompeo observed.

He added that “communist authorities continue to shutter churches, spy on and harass the faithful, and insist that the Party is the ultimate authority in religious affairs.”

Pompeo noted that “as part of the 2018 agreement, the Vatican legitimized Chinese priests and bishops whose loyalties remain unclear, confusing Chinese Catholics who had always trusted the Church. Many refuse to worship in state-sanctioned places of worship, for fear that by revealing themselves as faithful Catholics they will suffer the same abuses that they witness other believers suffer at the hands of the Chinese authorities’ increasingly aggressive atheism.”

Earlier this week the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom emphasized that religious freedom must be the result of any renewed Vatican agreement with China, noting that underground Catholics in the country continue to be persecuted.

Pompeo said that the recent imposition in Hong Kong of a National Security Law mandated by the mainland government “raises the specter that the Party will use the same tactics of intimidation and the full apparatus of state repression against religious believers.”

The top US diplomat observed that “many nations have joined the United States in expressing revulsion at the Chinese regime’s accelerating violations of human rights,” and said, “The State Department has been a strong voice for religious freedom in China and around the world and has taken steps to hold those who abuse the faithful responsible for their actions. We will continue to do so.”

After urging the Holy See to use its moral witness with the Chinese Communist Party, Pompeo wrote that “totalitarian regimes can only survive in darkness and silence, their crimes and brutality unnoticed and unremarked.”

“If the Chinese Communist Party manages to bring the Catholic Church and other religious communities to heel, regimes that disdain human rights will be emboldened, and the cost of resisting tyranny will rise for all brave religious believers who honor God above the autocrat of the day. I pray that, in dealing with the Chinese Communist Party, the Holy See and all who believe in the divine spark enlightening every human life will heed Jesus’s words in the Gospel of John, ‘The truth will set you free.’”

Pelosi 'misspoke' on San Francisco Mass attendance, spokesman claims

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 7:58pm

Washington D.C., Sep 18, 2020 / 05:58 pm (CNA).-  

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office told CNA Friday evening that she “misspoke” when she described “recently” attending Mass in a San Francisco church, despite the city’s months-long ban on indoor Masses.

“The Speaker misspoke. She has not been in San Francisco since September 5th due to ongoing talks around COVID relief and appropriations,” spokesman Drew Hammill from the Speaker’s office told CNA in a statement on Friday evening.

“She [Pelosi] has been participating regularly in church services virtually,” Hammill said.

Hammill did not explain what Pelosi referred to when she described Sept. 18 attending what appeared to be an indoor Mass and receiving Communion “recently” at a San Francisco church.

Earlier on Friday morning, at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol, Pelosi was asked by Erik Rosales of EWTN News Nightly about a recent op-ed by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, Pelosi’s archbishop, on the “unfairness” of the city’s public health rules.

Cordileone had pointed out the city’s ban on indoor religious services—except for funerals—during the pandemic while gyms and hair salons were allowed to serve some customers indoors.

Pelosi answered that “I have been to church in San Francisco recently, and I did receive Communion.”

She then went on to describe the experience in some detail, noting that she had to “sign up” to attend and that “I got in under the wire” as there were only two places left.

San Francisco has banned public indoor religious services—except for funerals—for months. Outdoor services are permitted with a cap on 12 people, although Speaker Pelosi’s recollection of the event recounted an indoor service.

“And when we got there—the church maybe holds 250 people. There were probably 12 people,” she said, “very, very, very spaced. But that was it, no more would be allowed.”

“And then we did receive Communion,” she said, noting that the priest washed his hands before distributing Communion, and that she received Communion in the hand.

“I miss going to church regularly,” she said. “Of course, we have virtual Mass here, many Masses in D.C., but all the other places…”

On Friday evening, however, Pelosi’s office told CNA that she “misspoke,” but did not explain in what she had misspoken.

Public Masses in San Francisco were suspended by the archdiocese on March 17, and the city’s public health ordinances have not yet allowed for public indoor Masses.

Archbishop Cordileone later informed parishes that they could resume public Masses on June 14, according to the city attorney’s office. However, the city said it informed the archdiocese on June 11 that indoor Masses were still barred “for the time being” as a public health risk.

Exceptions were made only for funerals with 12 or fewer persons, and live-streamed services where only necessary personnel were present to help with the Mass or video production.

On June 29, the city sent the archdiocese a cease-and-desist letter for public indoor Masses, saying that it had not officially amended the health order to allow for them.

“Our intention has always been to conform to what we understand to be the City orders and timelines,” the archdiocese said July 2, noting that the city’s orders had changed through the pandemic.

The situation continued through the summer. Archbishop Cordileone on July 30 urged prayer and fasting for an end to the pandemic and “for a restoration of public worship unhindered.”

In August, Cordileone asked the mayor to “at a minimum, remove the excessive limits on outdoor public worship.”

The city, meanwhile, watched for any possible violations of its order, sending the archdiocese a letter on Aug. 12 outlining “several things of concern.”

The city’s mayor, London Breed, announced this week that outdoor religious services with up to 50 people would be permitted beginning Sept. 14, but indoor religious services were still prohibited until Oct. 1, where they would be permitted with a cap at 25 people.

Archbishop Cordileone is leading a Eucharistic procession past city hall on Sept. 20 as a protest against the ongoing orders limiting Masses. He wrote in his Washington Post op-ed that “all we are seeking is access to worship in our own churches, following reasonable safety protocols.”

Pelosi, on Friday morning, said that the archbishop should abide by science in his desire to reopen churches.

“With all due respect to my archbishop, I think we should follow science on this,” she said.

She later added that “I don't know if he [Cordileone] was speaking as our pastor or as a lobbyist—advocate. But whatever it is, I am sure that he must have meant [reopen churches] if it is scientifically safe, rather than jeopardizing people’s health if they want to go to Church.”

 

Franciscan University honors NET Ministries for ‘strong Christian character’

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 7:07pm

CNA Staff, Sep 18, 2020 / 05:07 pm (CNA).- The Franciscan University of Steubenville this week bestowed its highest non-academic award to NET Ministries, a national evangelization program for young people, headquartered in Minnesota.

Mark Berchem, founder and president of NET Ministries, accepted the Poverello Medal on behalf of the group.

NET (National Evangelization Teams) Ministries’ model involves training and sending Catholic young adults across the country, divided into teams, to share the Catholic faith with young people through retreats for nine months at a time.

NET has led more than 34,000 retreats and ministered to more than 2 million young Catholics since its inception in 1981, the group says. In addition to the U.S., NET is active in Australia, Canada, Guam, Honduras, Mexico, Germany, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Uganda and Ireland.

Father Dave Pivonka, president of Franciscan University, said he experienced “fellowship and the power of the Holy Spirit” as a NET missionary before attending Franciscan.

“Thanks to NET, teenagers who may have never otherwise had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ have come to embrace him as their Savior and make the Catholic Church their spiritual home. Amid a culture that often rejects Christian principles, they are emboldened and empowered to live their faith,” Pivonka said.

Today, NET is currently active in over 100 dioceses. A notable alumnus is Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who first came to St. Paul through NET and later served as a traveling missionary throughout the country.

According to Franciscan, the Poverello Medal honors organizations and individuals who follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi through strong Christian character, practical charity, and service to the poor.

The award was first presented in 1949 to the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Other recipients include St. Teresa of Calcutta, Dorothy Day, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and Mary’s Meals.

 

What does the Catholic Church teach about voting? A CNA Explainer

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 5:43pm

Denver Newsroom, Sep 18, 2020 / 03:43 pm (CNA).-  

There is not a monolithic Catholic vote in the U.S., but Catholic voters do make a big difference in local, statewide, and national elections. And voting, the Church says, is part of participation in public life — part of contributing to the nation’s common good, the flourishing of its people.

The Church does not dictate to Catholics how they should vote, but it does provide guiding principles for making decisions about voting. This CNA Explainer offers some of those principles.

 

What does the Church teach about voting?

In 2007, the U.S. bishops’ conference issued “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” a guide to participation in public life, which included a section on voting. The bishops have periodically updated it since.

The bishops say that Catholics should vote according to “a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods.”

Last week, Bishop Alfred Schlert of Allentown wrote that: “A ‘well-formed conscience’ for the Catholic is one that has been formed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit through prayer, studying Scripture, and honestly informing oneself about the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.”

The “proper relationship among moral goods” means that voting is a kind of a weighing exercise, that not all issues have the same weight, and that voters need to prioritize various issues at hand in any election, and make hard choices about who to vote for, and who not to vote for.

 

Immoral acts

The Church says first that it is always immoral to vote for a person who supports an intrinsically immoral policy, if the reason for the vote is to achieve that policy:

“A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who favors a policy promoting an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, deliberately subjecting workers or the poor to subhuman living conditions, redefining marriage in ways that violate its essential meaning, or racist behavior, if the voter’s intent is to support that position.”

The bishops say it could be possible to vote for someone who supports something intrinsically immoral but only for “other morally grave reasons.” Before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger described those as “proportionate reasons.”

In a 2004 letter to U.S. bishops, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that: ”When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

The idea of “proportionate reasoning” recognizes that there are no perfect candidates. The job of Catholic voters is to weigh the positions of all candidates, and to avoid choosing a candidate who supports something immoral, unless something good outweighs that immorality.

 

Abortion

The U.S. bishops say that abortion has to weigh as an especially important factor when deciding whether it is morally acceptable to vote for a candidate.

In 2019, the bishops said that “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed.”

There were 862,000 abortions in the U.S. in 2017, and there are 73 millions abortions each year around the globe.

The Church does not say that abortion is the only issue, but that it is a “preeminent” or foundational consideration about the moral acceptability of a candidate.

Pope Francis asked in Laudato si: “How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?”

In Christifidelis Laici, Pope St. John Paul II taught that “the right to health, to home, to work, to culture is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.”

In 2008, Bishop, now Cardinal, Kevin Farrell released a joint statement with Bishop Kevin Vann, saying that in their view, “There are no ‘truly grave moral’ or ‘proportionate’ reasons, singularly or combined that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by abortion each year.”

Also in 2008, Archbishop Charles Chaput said that Catholics who support pro-choice candidates “need a compelling proportionate reason to justify it.” 

“What is a ‘proportionate’ reason when it comes to the abortion issue? It’s the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life — which we most certainly will. If we’re confident that these victims will accept our motives as something more than an alibi, then we can proceed,” Chaput said.

In 1988, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago was asked whether Catholics can “disqualify” candidates who support a legal right to abortion.

The cardinal put it this way: “Well, certainly. That’s what the consistent ethic is all about. I feel very, very strongly about the right to life of the unborn, the weakest and most vulnerable of human beings. I don’t see how you can subscribe to the consistent ethic and then vote for someone who feels that abortion is a 'basic right' of the individual. The consequence of that position would be an absence of legal protection for the unborn.”

 

What to do?

The bishops have taught that supporting a pro-abortion candidate requires overcoming the high bar of proportional reasoning. But a candidate’s opposition to abortion does not, by itself, make him an acceptable choice for Catholics. Voters should weigh the issues, and also consider character, leadership abilities, and integrity before casting a vote in any candidate's favor, the bishops say.

All of those factors go into the weighing exercise of proportional reasoning.

And the bishops say that well-formed voters could reach several conclusions:

“When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.”

The bishops do not rule out the possibilities of not voting, or of voting for third party candidates.

In 2016, Bishop James Conley offered this summary of “Faithful Citizenship’s” voting advice: “In good conscience, some Catholics might choose to vote for a candidate who, with some degree of probability, would be most likely to do some good, and the least amount of harm, on the foundational issues: life, family, conscience rights and religious liberty. Or, in good conscience, some might choose the candidate who best represents a Christian vision of society, regardless of the probability of winning. Or, in good conscience, some might choose not to vote for any candidate at all in a particular office.”

The U.S. bishops conference put it this way: “In making these decisions, it is essential for Catholics to be guided by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose policies promoting intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions. These decisions should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue.”

“In the end, this is a decision to be made by each Catholic guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching.”

 

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