Why a eucharistic renewal? (Mon, 20 Sep 2021)
At a time when programs and initiatives come and go, when our lives seem to be endlessly busy, and when various difficulties and sufferings abound, the question why another initiative is an
understandable one. Why do we need a eucharistic renewal?
The post Why a eucharistic renewal? appeared first on Georgia Bulletin.
>> Read more
Journeying back to a life-changing day (Mon, 20 Sep 2021)
I’ve often pondered what I’d do if I could travel back in time. I might return to the day before my mom’s death and give her an extra hug. Or I might head back to the afternoon my husband died
while taking a walk, and beg him to stay home.
The post Journeying back to a life-changing day appeared first on Georgia Bulletin.
>> Read more
Now is time to build new world without inequality, injustice, pope says (Sun, 19 Apr 2020)
By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service ROME (CNS) — As the world slowly recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a risk it will be struck by an even worse virus — that of selfish indifference,
Pope Francis said. This … Continue reading → >> Read more
Puerto Rico: ‘An unprecedented level of need’ (Mon, 06 Nov 2017)
Catholic News Service was the first major Catholic news organization to send a photographer and a reporter to tour the island and document the efforts of the church and other organizations to help
many of the people far from the capital of San Juan. Continue reading → >> Read more
Historic Tomb of Michelangelo and altarpiece in dire need of repairs (Wed, 11 Oct 2017)
By Matthew Fowler ROME (CNS) — The historic tomb of Michelangelo and the Buonarroti family altarpiece in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence are in dire need of cleaning and restoration due to
sustained damage over the past 50 … Continue reading → >> Read more
A look back at the Legion of Decency (Thu, 17 Aug 2017)
By Mark Pattison and Julie Asher WASHINGTON (CNS) — It’s summertime and the movies are plentiful. As everyone knows the summer movie season is a big one for Hollywood, and when it comes to a close,
it is followed closely … Continue reading → >> Read more
Jamboree called ‘life-changing event’ for youths, adults (Fri, 28 Jul 2017)
Here’s a dispatch from Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia sent earlier this week by Msgr. John B. Brady from the national Scout jamboree, which closed today. A retired
priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, he became … Continue reading → >> Read more
Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, July 23, 2017 (Fri, 21 Jul 2017)
July 23, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A. Readings: 1) Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 Psalm 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16
2) Romans 8:26-27 Gospel: Matthew 13:24-33 By Sharon K. Perkins Catholic News … Continue reading → >> Read more
John C. Quinn tended to the ‘least of these’ in U.S. newsrooms (Fri, 14 Jul 2017)
WASHINGTON (CNS) – I’m convinced that around the country, and perhaps the world, there are many letters similar to the one I received in the mail some 18 years ago. It was written by hand and it
ended with a … Continue reading → >> Read more
Some cheese with your ‘whine’: Pope ‘establishes’ complaint-free zone (Fri, 14 Jul 2017)
By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis left a not-so-subtle message outside his office in the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence: anyone who is thinking of
making a fuss, leave your whining at the door. … Continue reading → >> Read more
Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, July 16, 2017 (Thu, 13 Jul 2017)
July 16, Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A. Readings: 1) Isaiah 55:10-11 Psalm 65:10-14
2) Romans 8:18-23 Gospel: Matthew 13:1-23 By Jeff Hedglen Catholic News Service It seems as though every time … Continue reading → >> Read more
Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, July 9, 2017 (Fri, 07 Jul 2017)
The Scriptures this weekend contain a familiar, but difficult text. “Take my yoke upon you,” Jesus says. “For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Continue reading → >> Read more
Collegiality, synodality needed to face challenges in Europe, bishops say (Fri, 24 Sep 2021)
Pope Francis and Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, vice president of the Council of European Bishops'
Conferences, smile during the opening Mass of the plenary assembly of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Sept. 23, 2021. The meeting marked the
council's 50th anniversary. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
Heads of several bishops' conferences and councils around the world called for greater collegiality and communion among bishops to confront the challenges facing the church in
Europe and across the globe.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, who addressed the plenary assembly of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences Sept. 24, called on
the bishops to "support one another in communion in order to bear witness to the Lord's presence in all areas of life on our continent, which seems increasingly to be forgetting its history
and its roots."
The time of preparation for the 2023 world Synod of Bishops, which will reflect on synodality, communion, participation and mission, will be a "propitious occasion to reflect on the work of
evangelization that awaits us in the face of the challenges of our present time, which is also in need of knowing the immutable truth of Christ and the Gospel," Cardinal Parolin said.
The Sept. 23-26 plenary of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences, which is comprised of the presidents of 33 national bishops’ conferences and a dozen other Eastern- and
Latin-rite bishops from across the continent, was held in Rome.
The meeting marked the council's 50th anniversary and was a time to review its service to the continent in the light of Pope Francis' encyclical, "Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social
Pope Francis presided over the opening Mass of the plenary assembly Sept 23. Among those notably absent was Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the council, who was diagnosed with
COVID-19 and forced to remain in isolation.
In a message to the assembly, Cardinal Bagnasco echoed comments he made to Vatican News Sept. 23 when he said he was experiencing "a mild case" of COVID-19 and that his "extremely
light" symptoms were thanks to the vaccinations he received in May.
Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, also addressed the assembly. He expressed his gratitude for the council's example "of communion and episcopal
cooperation in Europe" throughout its 50 years."
"In spite of conflicts over the course of centuries, in spite of the secularization and atheism present in its territory, there is still in Europe a breeding ground for faith that is always alive
and capable of a new flourishing of communion and mission," Cardinal Ouellet said.
He also said European bishops must face the challenge of "offering our faithful and the suffering humanity of our time an understanding of man originating precisely from the
Trinitarian mystery in its entire broad formulation; a vision filled with hope that so far has been almost held back or concealed out of little enthusiasm for the enlightening power of God’s
In a written message, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, reflected on the council's "great contribution" to humanity in promoting
"the truth about the human person, created in the image of God and the universal values of freedom, equality and justice for all."
"Through your work, the church has truly served as the 'soul' of Europe and a sign of hope for the entire world," Archbishop Gomez said.
Peruvian Archbishop Héctor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, president of Latin American bishops' council — also known by its Spanish acronym, CELAM — also sent a message to
Drawing from the experience of the Latin American bishops, Archbishop Cabrejos urged greater collegiality and synodality not only among bishops, but also with laypeople and religious men
and women in the church.
"A model for renewing collegiality in the light of synodality is taking shape and it involves walking together as brothers and sisters in faith, as members of God's people," he said.
Enter your email address to receive free newsletters from NCR.
>> Read more
Venezuelan Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino dead at age 79 (Fri, 24 Sep 2021)
Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas, Venezuela, is pictured outside the apostolic nunciature in Bogota,
Colombia, Sept. 7, 2017, during Pope Francis' visit. Cardinal Urosa Savino, who was hospitalized in late August after contracting COVID-19, died Sept. 23 at the age of 79. (CNS photo/Paul
After a monthlong battle with COVID-19, Venezuelan Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, who led the Archdiocese of Caracas for 13 years, died at the age of 79.
Announcing the cardinal's death Sept. 23, Cardinal Baltazar Porras, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Caracas, asked "everyone to pray for his eternal rest as the church
in Venezuela and the universal church mourns."
Pope Francis expressed his condolences in a telegram to Cardinal Porras, remembering Cardinal Urosa as a "selfless shepherd who, throughout many years and with
faithfulness, gave his life to the service of God and the church."
Cardinal Urosa was hospitalized Aug. 27 after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was transferred to the intensive care unit the following day.
Shortly after the announcement of his death, the Venezuelan bishops' conference released a letter Cardinal Urosa had written before being moved to intensive care.
In it, Cardinal Urosa said he was grateful for his vocation and asked forgiveness of "God and all my brothers and sisters for the faults I may have committed, especially for the
faults of omission."
"I have never wanted to harm anyone, and I have always tried to act seeking the glory of God and the good of the church and of the souls and persons involved; I hope that this will be taken into
account," he wrote.
The cardinal expressed his love for the people of Venezuela and renewed his "absolute dedication to their freedom, to their institutions, to the defense of the rights of the people in
the face of the abuses committed by the national authorities."
"In that regard, I have always acted, not out of hatred, not out of resentment, but in defense of freedom, justice and the rights of the Venezuelan people," Cardinal Urosa wrote. "I
hope that Venezuela will come out of this negative situation."
The cardinal insisted his work "has always been guided by an immense patriotic love" for all Venezuelans "in line with the national constitution which establishes inalienable rights that
cannot be violated by any government."
He also urged his fellow bishops to "preserve our episcopal unity" and to not "be carried by vain illusions" but instead to always "seek the glory of God, the evangelization of the people, which
is the most important thing."
"What interests us above all is that the Venezuelan people love, have faith and serve Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life, the only one in whom we find salvation and forgiveness of
sins," he said.
Born in Caracas in 1942, he studied philosophy in Venezuela and theology in Toronto as well as at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University.
Ordained to the priesthood in 1967, he served as rector of St. Joseph's Seminary and as vicar general of the Archdiocese of Caracas before being named auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese by St.
John Paul II in 1982. Eight years later, he was named archbishop of Valencia.
He was appointed to lead the Archdiocese of Caracas in 2005 and created a cardinal in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Francis accepted his resignation in 2018 after
the cardinal reached the age of 75.
His death leaves the College of Cardinals with 218 members, 121 of whom are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave.
Enter your email address to receive free newsletters from NCR.
>> Read more
SSPX leader says vaccination can be morally 'prudent' (Fri, 24 Sep 2021)
Father Arnaud Sélégny of the Society of St. Pius X is pictured at the society's seminary in Econe, Switzerland, in
this May 10, 2012, file photo. Father Sélégny, secretary general of the SSPX, said that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 may be a morally prudent act. He also denounced as an "abuse of power"
coercive measures to promote vaccination. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
While denouncing as an "abuse of power" coercive measures to promote vaccination against COVID-19, a leader of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X said getting vaccinated "may sometimes be an
eminently prudent act in the moral sense of the term."
Father Arnaud Sélégny, secretary general of the SSPX, also said if hospitals or nursing homes admit only chaplains who are vaccinated, priests should comply.
"If it is impossible to approach the dying to confer on them the sacraments without being oneself vaccinated, we should prefer the salvation of our neighbor to our own health or tranquility," he
wrote in an article posted Sept. 24 on the congregation's website, fsspx.news.
"The absolute and categorical positions that are often widespread, such as that which tends to consider the vaccinated as Judas and those who refuse to do so as martyrs, or vice versa, seem at the
very least excessive and sometimes mark an obvious lack of charity," wrote Father Sélégny in his article on the most common moral, social and health arguments used for and against vaccination.
For many Catholics, the key moral question with the available COVID-19 vaccines is the fact that in the manufacturing or testing process, several of them used cell lines developed decades ago from
the tissue of aborted fetuses.
Responding to the question, "Is the one who benefits from a past sin committing a sin himself?" Father Sélégny quoted St. Thomas Aquinas: "It is one thing to consent or concur with someone in
wickedness, another thing to use the wickedness of someone for good."
With the "tainted" COVID-19 vaccines, he said, "it is question not of an evil which one commits oneself, but of a sin committed by another: and this is why it is first necessary to reprove the
past sin and not to consent to its malice."
"In the present case, it should be remembered that, while abortion is a particularly heinous crime," he said, the manufacturing and testing of the vaccines is indirect and remote. "Thus, when
there is a valid reason proportionate to the possible dangers, it is not immoral to be vaccinated with a product which has been prepared or tested with the above-mentioned fetal cells."
"The existence of a reasonable motive for consenting to be vaccinated is therefore possible," Father Sélégny wrote, citing as examples the need to prevent "the inevitable loss of one's
professional activity or social responsibilities" where proof of vaccination is required or "the need to visit an elderly person to support him and not to leave him alone."
While insisting vaccination should not be mandated by a government or employer, the priest said charity "sometimes requires making sacrifices to ensure the salvation or the good of one's
neighbor," so, "if a health pass is needed to circulate, it may happen that the obligation to fulfill a duty of charity prompts us to agree to be vaccinated."
Enter your email address to receive free newsletters from NCR.
>> Read more
Vatican: Racial, religious bigotry leads to human rights violations (Fri, 24 Sep 2021)
Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican secretary for relations with states, speaks in a prerecorded video released
Sept. 21, 2021, to high-level U.N. meeting in New York and posted to the Holy See U.N. YouTube page. Archbishop Gallagher said racism and religious bigotry around the world have led to human rights
violations. (CNS photo/Holy See U.N.)
World leaders must commit to rooting out the evil of racism, xenophobia and racial discrimination through meaningful legislation and action, said Archbishop Paul
R. Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister.
Addressing a high-level U.N. meeting Sept. 21, Archbishop Gallagher also said that violence against religious groups as well as prenatal diagnostics that lead to a denial of the right to
life "because of disability, sex, or other traits" must not be ignored.
"Universal human rights are indivisible and interdependent and thus cannot exist in opposition. Laws and norms that seek to root out discrimination and intolerance must therefore respect the right
to freedom of opinion, thought, religion and conscience," he said.
The high-level meeting marked the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, a U.N. document that proposed concrete measures to combat racism, racial discrimination,
xenophobia and related intolerance.
The Vatican's commitment to fight racism, Archbishop Gallagher said, is "rooted in the erroneous and evil claim that one human being has less dignity than another."
Citing Pope Francis' encyclical, "Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship," the Vatican foreign minister said racism regularly hides "beneath the surface only to
keep reemerging" and that among those who are often subject to racial discrimination and abuse are migrants and refugees, particularly those of African descent.
"Racism can and must be defeated through a culture of encounter, fraternity and solidarity," he said.
While agreements and declarations like the Durban Declaration are "an important and necessary step," the archbishop said, they must lead to real change through government regulations, education
and ethical media reporting that respects 'the dignity of all and do not foster a divisive 'us against them' mentality."
Archbishop Gallagher also denounced violence against religious groups and minorities and said the "disregard for the right to freedom of religion and belief leads to the violation of
further human rights."
"Individuals and entire populations are discriminated against because of their faith while perpetrators often enjoy impunity," he said. "Some religious minorities in certain regions even face
extinction, including Christians who represent the most persecuted group globally."
Furthermore, he denounced "the insidious practice of eugenics" as well as a mentality that "often lurks behind artificial procreation techniques" and denies countless human beings their right to
"Such a mindset entrenches principles of discrimination squarely opposed to the Durban Declaration and cannot be ignored," Archbishop Gallagher said.
Enter your email address to receive free newsletters from NCR.
>> Read more
Share God's love, don't just lament lack of faith, pope tells bishops (Thu, 23 Sep 2021)
Pope Francis arrives to lead his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Sept. 22, 2021. (CNS
Bishops and others in the Catholic Church often lament the declining number of Christians, but rarely do they examine their own behavior and failure to show others how much God loves them, Pope
Francis told the presidents of European bishops' conferences.
"Consider how many people no longer hunger and thirst for God! Not because they are evil, but because there is no one to awaken in them a hunger for faith and to satisfy that thirst in the human
heart," the pope said Sept. 23 as he concelebrated the opening Mass of the plenary assembly of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences.
"So many people are induced to feel only material needs, and not a need for God," the pope told his brother bishops during the early evening Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's
"Certainly, we are 'preoccupied' by this, but are we really 'occupied' with responding to it?" Francis asked.
"It is easy, but ultimately pointless, to judge those who do not believe or to list the reasons for secularization," the pope said. Instead, "the word of God challenges us to look to ourselves. Do
we feel concern and compassion for those who have not had the joy of encountering Jesus or who have lost that joy? Are we comfortable because, deep down, our lives go on as usual, or are we troubled
by seeing so many of our brothers and sisters far from the joy of Jesus?"
The plenary of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences brought together the presidents of 33 national bishops' conferences and a dozen other Eastern- and Latin-rite bishops from
across the continent. The meeting Sept. 23-26 was to celebrate the council's 50th anniversary and review its service to the continent in the light of Francis' encyclical, "Fratelli Tutti, on
Fraternity and Social Friendship."
After the Mass, the bishops were to renew their profession of faith at the tomb of St. Peter and pray at the tombs of St. Paul VI, Pope John Paul I and St. John Paul II -- the popes who
accompanied the early years of the council's existence.
Using the images of rebuilding homes and the temple in the day's first reading from the Book of Haggai, Francis said in his homily that just as the ancient Israelites had to "stop being content
with a peaceful present and start working for the future," so must the people of Europe.
The founders of the European Union "did not seek a fleeting consensus, but dreamed of a future for all," the pope said, and only that kind of farsighted vision can ensure a consolidation
of peace, freedom and solidarity on the continent.
"The same is true for the church, the house of God," he said. "To make her beautiful and welcoming, we need, together, to look to the future, not to restore the past."
Of course, Francis said, any idea of "rebuilding" the church must begin with the church's foundation, "the church's living tradition, which is based on what is essential, the Good News,
closeness and witness."
"We need to rebuild from her foundations the church of every time and place, from worship of God and love of neighbor, and not from our own tastes, not from pacts or deals that we make to 'defend
the church' or 'to defend Christianity,'" he said.
In the reading from Haggai, he noted, the verb form of "rebuild" is plural -- a call to all the people.
"All rebuilding takes place together, in unity, with others," Francis said. "Visions may differ, but unity must always be preserved. For if we keep the grace of the whole, the Lord keeps building,
even when we fall short."
"This is our vocation as pastors: to gather the flock, not to scatter it or to keep it enclosed by fine fences," he said. "Rebuilding means becoming artisans of communion, weavers of unity at
every level: not by stratagems but by the Gospel."
The challenge is huge, the pope said, because so many Europeans see religious faith as "a relic from the past."
The reason, he said, is that "they have not seen Jesus at work in their own lives," and "often this is because we, by our lives, have not sufficiently shown him to them."
"If Christians, instead of radiating the contagious joy of the Gospel, keep speaking in an outworn intellectualistic and moralistic religious language, people will not be able to see the Good
Shepherd," the pope said. "They will not recognize the one who loves each of his sheep, calls them by name, and bears them on his shoulders."
"Jesus does not ask us to make arguments for God, but to show him, in the same way the saints did, not by words but by our lives," Francis said.
Enter your email address to receive free newsletters from NCR.
>> Read more
California governor moves to protect 'privacy' of minors who procure abortions (Sat, 25 Sep 2021)
Govenor Gavin Newsom of California. / Karl_Sonnenberg/Shutterstock
Sacramento, Calif., Sep 25, 2021 / 05:01 am (CNA).
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a pair of bills Sept. 22 that relate to privacy surrounding abortion, both of which could make it easier for minors to hide abortions from their
AB 1356 makes it illegal to film or photograph patients or employees within 100 feet of an abortion clinic “with the specific intent to intimidate a person from becoming or remaining a
reproductive health services patient, provider, or assistant.”
The second bill, AB 1184, would allow insured individuals, including minors, to keep “sensitive services” confidential from the insurance policyholder, generally their parents.
The bill requires insurance companies to “accommodate requests for confidential communication of medical information” regardless of whether “disclosure would endanger the individual.”
The bill, which is set to take effect in July 2022, specifically mentions “sexual and reproductive health” and “gender affirming care” as potentially “sensitive services.”
Newsom’s office heralded the laws as a strengthening of California’s status as a “haven” for women seeking abortions.
“This action comes in the wake of attacks on sexual health care and reproductive rights around the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s failure to block Texas’ ban on abortion after six
weeks,” a statement from Newsom’s office reads, referring to a new pro-life law in that state that took effect Sept. 1.
“California is a national leader on reproductive and sexual health protections and rights, and Governor Newsom’s actions today make clear that the state will remain a haven for all Californians,
and for those coming from out-of-state seeking reproductive health services here.”
CNA reached out to the California Catholic Conference for comment.
A group of Republican lawmakers wrote to Newsom before he signed the bills into law, urging him to veto them instead.
“We should be encouraging parents and family to be involved in their children’s lives, not removing them further from it,” the letter reads, which was signed by nine state senators.
They also argued, in a more pragmatic vein, that AB 1184 would put policyholders in the “impossible position” of being financially responsible for bills incurred by their dependent children, but
which they have no means of verifying because of the new confidentiality rules.
>> Read more
Don't let Colo. law silence same-sex marriage objections, web designer asks Supreme Court (Fri, 24 Sep 2021)
Lorie Smith, owner and founder of 303 Creative. / Alliance Defending Freedom.
Denver, Colo., Sep 24, 2021 / 17:28 pm (CNA).
A Colorado web designer who fears prosecution under state anti-discrimination law for stating her faith-based objections to providing services that promote same-sex marriage or weddings has asked
the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case.
“Artists don’t surrender their freedom of speech when they choose to make a living by creating custom expression,” Lorie Smith, a web designer who operates the design studio 303 Creative, told
reporters Sept. 24. “Those who create speech for a living are entitled to the full protection of the Constitution. Just because we communicate one viewpoint doesn’t mean we should be forced to
promote an opposing viewpoint. Laws should not be weaponized to force us to do so.”
“Colorado is censoring my speech,” she said in a press call hosted by the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group. “I cannot even post my beliefs about my views on my own website. The government
should not banish people from the marketplace based on their views, whether those views are about marriage or something else.”
Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. The lawsuit challenges parts of the law on the grounds that they violate First Amendment
protections of free speech and free exercise of religion.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys argued that the law bars creative professionals from expressing views about marriage that suggest someone is “unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable, or
undesirable.” They may not express views that suggest the designer won't create particular works because of those beliefs.
Failure to secure a court ruling against the law, Smith’s attorneys said, would force her to live under threat of prosecution if she declines to design and publish websites that promote messages
or causes that conflict with her beliefs, such as messages that promote same-sex marriage or same-sex weddings.
In a 2-1 July decision, a panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Smith, stating that the state of Colorado had an interest in combatting discrimination.
The panel agreed that the Colorado law forced Smith to create websites and speech that she “would otherwise refuse” and created a “substantial risk” of removing “certain ideas or viewpoints from
the public dialogue,” including Smith’s beliefs about marriage. However, it ruled in favor of the law, in part on the grounds that she creates “custom and unique” expression.
“The government shouldn’t weaponize the law to force a web designer to speak messages that violate her beliefs,” Kristen Waggoner, general counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, told reporters.
“This case involves quintessential free speech and artistic freedom, which the 10th Circuit astonishingly and dangerously cast aside.”
“The 10th Circuit found that yes, Lorie’s website designs were speech protected under the First Amendment and that, yes, Lorie would, in fact, serve everyone regardless of who they are. But
despite all that, the 10th Circuit said that the government could force Lorie to speak views she opposes and prevent her from posting about her beliefs on her own website,” Waggoner said.
Waggoner said that both the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals and the Arizona Supreme Court have ruled in favor of artists facing possible pressure from similar laws.
Smith’s case is not a response to government action. Rather, it is a pre-enforcement challenge intended to prevent the use of the law that Smith's attorneys say affects creative professionals who
have religious or moral concerns about creating content that violates their beliefs. The law prevents Smith from seeking to expand her business to include designing websites for weddings.
Attorneys for the state of Colorado have argued that the plaintiff lacks standing, saying the threat of an enforcement action is hypothetical. The appellate court decision disagreed, saying the
plaintiff has “a credible fear of prosecution” for violating the law.
State attorneys said that businesses involved in the wedding industry must serve same-sex couples under anti-discrimination law, Law Week Colorado reports. Their brief said, “if a merchant is
willing to design a website featuring certain statements — like ‘Alex and Jordan request the honor of your presence’ … or ‘Taylor and Morgan invite you to share their joy’ — for an opposite-sex
couple,” then the business must provide that service to a same-sex couple.
The panel court decision agreed with this analysis, saying that “grave harms” can come when public accommodations discriminate. “Combatting such discrimination is, like individual autonomy,
‘essential’ to our democratic ideals,” said the ruling.
While the panel’s majority agreed that a diversity of faiths and religious exercise, including those of the plaintiff, enriches society, it added: “Yet, a faith that enriches society in one way
might also damage society in other ways, particularly when that faith would exclude others from unique goods or service.”
Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich, in his dissent, said the case “represents another chapter in the growing disconnect between the Constitution’s endorsement of pluralism of belief on the one hand and
anti-discrimination laws’ restrictions of religious-based speech in the marketplace on the other.”
“It seems we have moved from ‘live and let live’ to ‘you can’t say that’,” he said. Tymkovich objected that the majority decision concluded that the state has a “compelling interest in forcing Ms.
Smith to speak a government-approved message against her religious beliefs” and also that the public accommodation law is “the least restrictive means” to do so.
The ruling “endorses substantial government interference in matters of speech, religion, and Conscience,” he said. He criticized the Colorado law as “overbroad and vague,” and said the statements
of the state’s attorneys showed it is willing to “distribute punishment inequitably.”
For her part, Smith said her approach to design is a personal one. Every website, graphic, and design she creates is a representation of her.
“I work in close collaboration with each client for each project, and what I create for them is truly artwork that conveys some message and celebrates some ideals,” she said.
“Artists must be free to create and speak messages consistent with their convictions without the threat of unjust punishment,” said Smith. “Today, it’s me, but tomorrow it could be you. My case is
about the freedom of all Americans to live and work consistent with their beliefs. Free speech is for everyone, not just those that agree with the government.”
At issue in the 303 Creative case is the same law that brought Lakewood, Colo. baker Jack Philips and his business Masterpiece Cakeshop to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2012, Philips declined to make
a cake for a same-sex wedding, on the grounds that doing so would violate his religious beliefs. His prospective customers filed a complaint, and Philips went before the Colorado Civil Rights
The civil rights commission ordered Phillips and his staff to undergo anti-discrimination training and to submit quarterly reports on how he is changing company policies. He had to cease making
wedding cakes to continue operating his business according to his conscience while not running afoul of the law.
In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado commission had violated Phillips' rights. Its 7-2 opinion said the commission “showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility
toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.”
The high court also cited inconsistent treatment of complaints by Colorado authorities. When a man complained that other bakeries refused to create cakes with an anti-gay marriage message,
religious imagery, and loosely paraphrased Bible passages, state authorities rejected the complaints.
Phillips was then caught up in another controversy when a prospective customer asked him to make a cake to celebrate a gender transition, and he declined citing his religious beliefs. While state
officials rejected the customer’s complaint that this constituted discrimination on the basis of gender identity, the customer filed a civil lawsuit against Phillips. In June 2021 a judge ruled
against the baker and ordered him to pay fines, though he has appealed that decision.
>> Read more
Former HHS official: Biden administration trying to 'bail out' Texas abortion providers (Fri, 24 Sep 2021)
Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra / vasilis
Washington D.C., Sep 24, 2021 / 15:01 pm (CNA).
The Biden administration is looking to “bail out” Texas pro-abortion groups with its new actions, one former senior HHS official told CNA this week.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is “twisting and turning and distorting the law in order to try to bail out their friends at Planned Parenthood,” said Roger Severino, senior
fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in an interview with CNA this week.
Severino formerly headed the HHS civil rights office from 2017 to 2021, under President Trump’s administration.
The agency on Sept. 17 had announced three actions as part of an effort to “bolster” abortion in Texas, after the state’s pro-life law went into effect on Sept. 1.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said his agency would increase family planning funding for clinics in the state, and enforce two existing federal health care laws.
“Today we are making clear that doctors and hospitals have an obligation under federal law to make medical decisions regarding when it’s appropriate to treat their patients. And we are telling
doctors and others involved in the provision of abortion care, that we have your back,” Becerra stated.
One of the two laws which HHS said it would enforce is the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), a 1986 law requiring Medicare-participant hospitals to provide emergency stabilizing
treatment to people who need it, or transfer patients to another hospital that can provide the treatment.
An HHS memo accompanying Becerra’s announcement said this law also applies to cases of active labor. Severino said this implies that HHS believes the law requires abortion as part of emergency
care at hospitals.
“They are specifically now opining that abortion may actually be required under federal law,” Severino said of the announcement. “And that is absolutely outrageous.”
The text of the 1986 law makes specific references, in the case of a pregnant woman at a hospital, to the “unborn child” as well as the mother. Severino said the law “specifically protects unborn
children and requires them to be stabilized, as well as mothers, in emergency situations.”
“Intentionally killing a child in the womb does not qualify as stabilizing treatment for the mother, and certainly not for the child,” he said.
The Trump administration in 2019 clarified that the law protects infants who survive botched abortion attempts, requiring that they be given necessary stabilizing care.
Other pro-abortion groups have contended that the law requires abortions as part of emergency care at hospitals. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed multiple lawsuits in the past against
the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a Catholic health care system in Michigan, because of Catholic hospitals’ refusal to provide abortions as part of emergency care. The ACLU sued the
bishops’ conference over its Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, which prohibits abortion.
In response to a CNA inquiry on enforcement of the law, an HHS spokesperson referred CNA to the secretary’s guidance issued on the Church Amendments – the second federal law the agency says it
The Church Amendments prohibit discrimination against both health care workers who perform or assist in abortions, and those who object to performing or assisting in abortions.
Severino’s office in 2019 went public with allegations against the University of Vermont Medical Center, for allegedly forcing a nurse to participate in an abortion. Later in 2020, HHS referred
the matter to the Justice Department, which filed a lawsuit arguing that the hospital had violated the Church Amendments in forcing the nurse to assist in the abortion.
The Biden administration quietly dropped the lawsuit in July, upon request by Becerra’s HHS.
Severino accused the HHS of selectively enforcing the Church Amendments.
“They are protecting abortionists instead of the victims of abortionists, which is beyond ironic. And they don’t have a legal basis to do so,” he said.
Furthermore, he said, the Church Amendments apply to employers and not to the state of Texas – which would mean that HHS’ enforcement of the Church Amendments in this case would be moot.
“But the Texas [heartbeat] law doesn’t really speak to Texas as an employer. So, they [HHS] are really barking up the wrong tree on this one, in order to signal to the administration’s allies in
the abortion industry that they’ve got their back,” he said.
The agency is also making $10 million available to the group Every Body Texas, which disburses grants to clinics for family planning services. Under the Title X program, funds cannot directly pay
for abortions, although the Biden administration loosened existing regulations and will allow grants to abortion providers for services other than abortion.
Becerra announced that Texas clinics can now apply for HHS resources to help women “impacted by” the Texas law.
“They are shoveling loads of money towards their abortion industry allies on the pretext that, with fewer abortions being available in Texas, that there’s going to be an emergency need for more
contraceptives,” Severino explained.
“That is effectively an admittance that people getting abortions were using it as a method of family planning,” he said, counter to a narrative that abortions might be “rare.”
The Texas Heartbeat Act restricts most abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which can occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The law is enforced through private civil lawsuits,
and not by the state.
President Joe Biden in response promised a “whole-of-government” effort to maintain abortion in Texas.
>> Read more
Upcoming St. Joseph Summit to begin Sept. 30 (Fri, 24 Sep 2021)
null / St. Joseph Summit
Washington D.C., Sep 24, 2021 / 14:03 pm (CNA).
A California-based ministry, with the support of the Diocese of Orange, is hosting a virtual four-day summit on St. Joseph beginning Sept. 30. The event will include more than 40 presenters
teaching the spiritual importance of Jesus’ foster father.
The diocese just released an online video trailer previewing the summit.
“Saint Joseph can have a powerful influence in your life and wants to be your spiritual father,” the trailer says. “He wants to give you that protection. But we need to learn how to call upon him
in prayer; learn how to foster a better devotion to him.”
“The Saint Joseph Summit will give you the keys to bring Saint Joseph into your life, the life of your family, and the church,” the trailer says. “This September 30, you’re invited to pilgrimage
to the heart of St. Joseph.”
The virtual summit which will take place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 is being run by Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry, an organization within the diocese dedicated to evangelization.
Summit founder, Deacon Steve Greco, called St. Joseph “the greatest male saint in the Catholic Church,” in a Sept. 22 press release.
On Dec. 8, 2020, Pope Francis declared the start of the “Year of Saint Joseph” and issued his apostolic letter on St. Joseph, Patris corde (“With a father’s heart”). The year will conclude on Dec.
The St. Joseph summit is free to “attend” online, but those who purchase a “passport” upgrade will be granted lifetime access to the summit presentations, as well as a copy of the Consecration to
Saint Joseph in audio book or e-book format.
Some presenters at the summit include Fr. Donald Calloway – who compiled the “Consecration to St. Joseph” – along with
Cardinal Raymond Burke; Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston; Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York; Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco; Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas;
Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference; Bishop Gerald Barbarito of Palm Beach; Bishop Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Orange; Dr. Scott Hahn; and Chris
Stefanick, host of EWTN’s “Real Life Catholic.”
“Saint Joseph is the man of the hour,” Greco said. “This is his year and we know that this summit is a point of grace for people everywhere who are seeking in these most challenging times.”
Other “special guest” summit speakers include: Jason and Crystalina Evert from the Chastity Project, Leah Darrow from Lux Catholic, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus Patrick Kelly,
filmmaker and brother of actor Mark Wahlberg, James Wahlberg.
>> Read more
Catholic school in Illinois hires coach in same-sex marriage, reversing earlier decision (Fri, 24 Sep 2021)
A same-sex wedding cake topper. / edwardolive/Shutterstock
Joliet, Ill., Sep 24, 2021 / 11:17 am (CNA).
A Catholic school in suburban Chicago this week reversed a previous decision not to hire a coach who is civilly married to a person of the same sex, following massive internet backlash and
protests from parents and students.
Benet Academy, a co-ed preparatory school located in Lisle, Ill. in the Diocese of Joliet, hired Amanda Kammes Sept. 21 to coach the girl’s lacrosse team, despite days earlier “deferring
employment discussions” upon learning Kammes is in a same-sex civil marriage. Kammes reportedly listed her female partner as her emergency contact on employment papers.
Benet Academy initially defended its decision not to hire Kammes, citing the importance of hiring individuals who “manifest the essential teachings of the Church.”
The school's website says that the "Benet Academy does reserve
the right to hire staff of good moral character who subscribe to the stated philosophy of the school and to the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church."
The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexual inclinations are not sinful, homosexual acts "are contrary to the natural law...under no circumstances can they be approved."
“Benet Academy respects the dignity of all human beings to follow their conscience and to live lives of their choosing,” school spokeswoman Jamie Moss told the Chicago Tribune in an email.
“Likewise, as a Catholic school, we employ individuals whose lives manifest the essential teachings of the Church in order to provide the education and faith formation of the young people
entrusted to our care.”
A group of 40 or so students and parents at the school reportedly staged pro-LGBT protests after learning that the school had decided not to hire Kammes. The girl’s lacrosse team was photographed
wearing rainbow masks in support of the prospective coach.
An online petition advocating for Kemmes’ hiring, which appears to have since been removed, reportedly garnered nearly 4,000 signatures. Social media posts from the school – many unrelated to the
hiring situation – were flooded with comments, many from alumni, condemning the school’s decision not to hire the coach.
The school’s board said in a Tuesday statement that the school had, after extensive discussion, extended a job offer to Kammes, and that she had accepted.
“The Board has heard from members of the Benet community on all sides of this issue over the past several days. We had an honest and heartfelt discussion on this very complex issue at our
meeting,” the statement reads.
“Going forward we will look for opportunities for dialogue in our community about how we remain true to our Catholic mission while meeting people where they are in their personal journey through
life. For now, we hope that this is the first step in healing the Benet community."
Benet Academy lists on its website 24 board members, of whom five are Benedictine priests, brothers, or sisters; 12 are lay alumni of the school; and seven are non-alumni lay persons.
Kammes, a decorated lacrosse coach, had previously coached at a Catholic school in Lombard, Illinois. She said in a statement that she is “truly humbled by the outpouring of support” and expressed
hope that “the LGBTQ+ community at Benet and other Catholic institutions, felt supported, loved, and know that they are not alone.”
Mary Massingale, director of communications for the Joliet diocese, told CNA via email that Benet Academy is operated by the Order of St. Benedict, and is not under the purview of the Diocese of
Joliet, which was “not involved in the decision-making process.”
Nearby St. Procopius Abbey, whose abbott serves as chancellor to the school, declined to comment to CNA.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that people with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" should be "accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in
their regard should be avoided."
A 2003 document of
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith taught that "in those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to
marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty...One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws.”
Stephen Marth, head of school at Benet Academy, released a letter to the school
community Sept. 22.
“As a person who has been raised Catholic, attended Catholic schools from kindergarten through graduate school, and devoted a substantial portion of my professional career to leadership in
Catholic schools, I am truly committed to the value of educating our young people in the faith and in helping them to understand that, as they mature, they will have to struggle all the more with the
complexities that result when authentic Church teaching is applied to situations encountered in life,” Marth wrote.
“I am not a theologian, a psychiatrist, or a mediation specialist, and I have no pretention [sic] of possessing great wisdom with regard to how Catholic Church leadership and lay membership might
best resolve some of the issues that have fractured our Church and / or caused some to leave the Church altogether. I am certain, however, that two things will be helpful in going forward – honest
dialogue and patience,” he continued.
“How best to structure and ultimately accomplish this respectful discourse at Benet is something that will be receiving the focused attention of Benet leadership in the days and weeks ahead. My
sincere hope is that the entire Benet family will come together and exercise mutual respect as we continue to fulfill the school’s mission.”
Marth, in an earlier letter, had encouraged students to wear symbols of the cross or crucifixes to school, which represent “God’s unconditional love for each and every one of us despite our human
weaknesses, brokenness, and sinfulness,” rather than rainbow “pride” symbols, which for some “represent an affirmation of a particular lifestyle or life choices that the Church, in her wisdom, does
not and cannot condone.”
However, in response, some parents called for his resignation.
According to a May 26 letter, Marth's position as head of
school was created earlier this year with three foci, one of which is the “carrying out of the school's mission and vision”.
The school's mission statement says, in part, that the academy
will have achieved its mission if graduating seniors leave it "having learned to incorporate the principles of Christian morality into all aspects of their daily lives".
CNA reached out to Marth for further information about how the decision in this case might affect future hiring decisions at the school, but did not receive a response by press time.
A Chicago radio personality on Wednesday shared online an excerpt of a letter, purportedly from a current Benet Academy parent to the school board, in which the parent expressed concern that
Kammes’ hiring puts the school’s Catholic identity in jeopardy.
“A person who publicly lives outside the moral teaching of the Church on matters of human sexuality and marriage cannot model for students the truth and virtues that Benet seeks to instill in its
students,” the letter reads in part.
“Moreover, if it hires Ms. Kammes there will be no limiting principle to this going forward. The school will have no basis for refusing to hire anyone in the future who dissents from the Church on
grave matters of moral teaching. There will be no principled way it can refuse to hire a qualified teacher or coach who works weekends as a clinic escort for women seeking abortions at Planned
The parent also speculated that Kammes’ hiring would prove to be a watershed moment for the school, and would be used to justify changes to other aspects of the school’s curriculum and mission
"In addition, in the near future, Benet will hear calls for the school to instruct its students in ways of thinking about profound moral questions invovling [sic] sexuality and other matters that
contradict what the Church holds and has always held to be true. The same arguments now heard— about a lack of compassion, about a failure to respect the consciences of others— will be heard again,
only now in demanding curricular changes,” the anonymous parent opined.
In the United States, various Catholic schools and dioceses have faced lawsuits from employees who have been fired after contracting civil same-sex marriages in violation of the diocesan or school
Federal law prohibiting workplace discrimination – Title VII – includes an exception for ministers of religion. In a June 2020 ruling in the case Our Lady of Guadalupe School v.
Morrissey-Berru, the Supreme Court found that Catholic school teachers, even if not given the formal title of "minister,” can fall under the ministerial exception because the essence of their
job is to transmit the faith to students.
Last month, Lynn Starkey, a guidance counselor at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, a Catholic school, was fired for entering a same-sex marriage contract. A federal district judge later ruled
that Starkey qualified as a minister of religion; thus, the archdiocese and school were exempt from federal workplace discrimination prohibitions.
However, earlier this month, a federal judge ruled that the Diocese of Charlotte discriminated against a substitute teacher by firing him upon his announcement – after more than a decade of openly
dating a man – that he intended to contract a same-sex marriage.
The judge’s ruling rejected claims that religious freedom protected the school from the lawsuit, writing that “Plaintiff is a lay employee, who comes onto the campus of a religious school for the
limited purpose of teaching secular classes, with no mandate to inculcate students with Catholic teachings.”
The diocese argued that “Catholic schools are permitted to employ educators who support our Church’s teachings and will not publicly oppose them.”
>> Read more