The Eucharist: Our testimony to hope (Thu, 10 Jun 2021)
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have received many letters and emails from all over the archdiocese. One of the common themes that ran through this correspondence was a deep sense of
longing to receive holy Communion.
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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
Caritas campaign makes strides, but miles still to go in welcoming migrants (Tue, 15 Jun 2021)
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, and others participate in the "Share the Journey" walk near
the Vatican in this Oct. 21, 2018, file photo. As Caritas concluded the "Share the Journey" campaign in support of migrants, its leaders said much work remains to be done to change attitudes about
immigration. (CNS/Caritas Internationalis/Patrick Nicholson)
Participants logged more than 370,000 miles in symbolic solidarity walks with migrants over the past four years, but the leaders of Caritas Internationalis know there are many miles to go in
changing attitudes toward immigration.
"Where there is indifference and intolerance toward migrants, Caritas will stand by them to express the love and concern of the Mother Church," Aloysius John, secretary-general of Caritas
Internationalis, told reporters June 15 at a conference marking the formal end of the "Share the Journey" campaign.
Launched in 2017 with the help of Pope Francis, the campaign was designed to encourage Catholics and others to get to know some of their migrant and refugee neighbors. The national Catholic
charities that form Caritas Internationalis and their diocesan affiliates sponsored walks, shared meals and informal encounters as part of the initiative.
The aim was to build "bridges of hope between islands separated by fear," said Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis and prefect of the Congregation for the
Evangelization of Peoples.
"We gave ourselves a few challenges: not just seeing the migrants but looking at them with compassion; not just hearing their voice but listening to their stories and concerns; not just passing by
the other side but stopping, as the good Samaritan, and living a moment of communion with them," the cardinal said.
Msgr. Bruno-Marie Duffé, secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said the campaign included key elements of Catholic teaching on migrants, beginning with the fact that
they are human beings with dignity and rights to be protected.
The campaign, he said, tried to help people realize that "each of them has a journey, an intimate pain that haunts them and each of them has a hope: to be considered as a person, to be called by
name, to be welcomed and recognized."
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing and with many nations claiming a need to protect their own citizens first, bringing "the risk of intensifying selfishness and the fear of strangers," Tagle
said, "the end of Caritas Internationalis' global campaign is a call to continue to share the journey with migrants, especially at this most difficult moment. The campaign formally ends, but the
Asked about ways to measure the success of the four-year "Share the Journey" campaign, both John and Tagle told stories of individual encounters where people were "converted" to recognizing the
migrant in their midst as a brother or sister.
"People have been touched in different ways, touched by the suffering," John said, which is why Caritas Internationalis is asking people to go to www.caritas.org, light a virtual candle and share
messages and stories that will be compiled and given to Pope Francis.
The campaign was looking for "a new consciousness, a new way of looking at people on the move and developing this culture where, instead of fear of the 'other,' we see a human person and we give
them the love, the attention, that we know every human being deserves," Tagle said. "We cannot set a time frame; we cannot say, 'At the end of 2021 everyone, including Caritas workers, should have
been converted already.' We hope that happens, but knowing human freedom and human frailty," some people will need more time.
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Chicago priest named to head Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs (Tue, 15 Jun 2021)
Fr. Ronald Kunkel, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, is seen in this undated photo. On June 15, 2021, he was
named executive director of the Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington. The appointment is effective Aug. 9. (CNS/Courtesy Mundelein
Fr. Ronald Kunkel, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, has been named executive director of the Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in
Washington, effective Aug. 9.
Msgr. Jeffrey D. Burrill, general secretary of the bishops' conference, announced the appointment June 15.
"Father Kunkel brings an extensive background of theological instruction to the conference," Burrill said in a statement. "I am confident that his expertise will fruitfully serve both the bishops'
Committee on Doctrine, as well as the secretariat with the theological and pastoral consultation that is necessary in carrying out the work of the conference."
He succeeds Fr. Michael J.K. Fuller as executive director of the secretariat. A priest of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, Fuller was named last November as associate general secretary for the
bishops' conference. He has held the secretariat post since August 2016.
Since 2005, Kunkel has been at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois, where he has been an instructor of systematic theology, an assistant professor of dogmatic theology,
the director of sacred liturgy and an associate professor of dogmatic theology.
Ordained to the priesthood in 2000, he served as associate pastor of St. Peter Parish in Skokie, Illinois, and as associate pastor and director of liturgy at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.
Kunkel has a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor's of sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He earned his
licentiate of sacred theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome, and his doctorate of sacred theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein.
He is a member of the Catholic Theological Society of America, the American Academy of Religion, the Society for Catholic Liturgy and the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. He also is a contributor
to the theological journal Chicago Studies.
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Eritrean Catholic bishops angry over government's latest school seizures (Tue, 15 Jun 2021)
Catholic bishops in Eritrea have expressed anger at the forced takeover of church-run institutions as the government moved to confiscate or close more schools.
The latest seizure targeted early childhood and intermediate primary schools throughout the country. The schools were the last remaining Catholic Church-owned and operated educational institutions
following an earlier seizure in 2018.
"We ... are deeply saddened and intimately hurt by the measures that the government is adopting by force or has already done so, taking away from us educational and health institutions that
legitimately belong to us," the bishops said in a May 26 letter to Eritrea's education minister, Semere Re'esom.
"These measures, we hereby formally denounce and firmly reject," the Catholic bishops wrote.
"We declare that she (the Catholic Church) will never cease to claim the return of the social institutions forcibly taken away ... as well as the right to carry out all the services of which she
had been deprived," the letter said.
In 2018, the government confiscation of church-owned secondary schools triggered global condemnation. The schools, some built by Italian missionary more than 70 years ago, were never returned to
the church. The government also seized church-run health centers in 2018. The closure of the 22 institutions left thousands of patients without care.
The bishops said the measures taken by the government violated the church's rights and are detrimental to the most basic principles of justice.
"They prevent the church from offering, as a legitimate religious institution and as a community of Eritrean citizens, her services to the integral development of Eritrean people," the bishops
said, adding that the government was denying families opportunities to send their children to schools of their own choice.
"It uses force both as principal and as a method, rather than dialogue and mutual understanding," the bishops said.
Church leaders have explained over the years that the schools and health centers are a legitimate church property, established, built and organized in the exclusive interest of serving all
The bishops also said they welcome conversations with the government to discuss their concerns.
"The Catholic Church in Eritrea, today as it has been always done in the past and will do in the future, upholds and defends, as its inspiring principles, the paths of dialogue, mutual
understanding, peace and mutual respect," the bishops said.
Catholics make up about 5% of Eritrea's population of 6 million people.
Ruled by President Isaias Afwerki since 1993, Eritrea has been strongly criticized by human rights groups, especially over reports of detention without trial, open-ended military
conscription and bans on some faiths. Regulations introduced in 1995 limit any developmental activities of religious institutions, including schools, hospitals, agricultural projects and sponsoring
education for vulnerable children.
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Argentine bishops' pastoral team rebukes president on country's origins (Tue, 15 Jun 2021)
Argentine President Alberto Fernández speaks during a news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at
the Casa Rosada presidential palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 9, 2021. (CNS photo/Agustin Marcarian, Reuters)
The Argentine bishops' pastoral team for aboriginal peoples rebuked comments from the country's president that perpetuated the viewpoint that the population predominantly arrived "on ships" from
President Alberto Fernández, appearing June 9 with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, repeated the line of an old song -- which he erroneously attributed to Mexican writer Octavio Paz --
"Mexicans came from the Indians, Brazilians from the jungle and we Argentines on ships ... from Europe."
The comments provoked strong reactions throughout Latin America, where many people's ancestry are from Indigenous, European or African roots -- and often a mix of these ethnicities. It also
revealed opinions on how Argentines often see themselves as the product of mass immigration from Europe -- especially Italy and including Pope Francis' family -- in the early 1900s.
In a statement June 10, the bishops' National Aboriginal Pastoral Team, said, "The imaginary White European as the only model in the Americas provokes a wound which continues being open. And the
reiteration of this ethnocentric model reproduces the mythical idea of a hegemonic Argentina. The reality of an ancestral Argentina, which is Indigenous and multicultural, emerges from the same
For his part, Fernández offered apologies for his remarks, which he said were not meant to offend. But he also offered a further explanation.
"In the first half of the 20th century, we received more than 5 million immigrants, who lived together with our original peoples," he tweeted June 10. "Our diversity is a point of pride."
He wasn't the first Argentine president to speak of the country's population coming across the ocean on ships, according to the National Aboriginal Pastoral Team.
"The unfortunate phrase makes invisible the Original Communities' years of struggle for respect of their identity and the right to their territories, which in recent years have been gaining
worldwide recognition," the team's statement said.
The Indigenous population of Argentina numbers 955,032 in 35 ethnic groups, according to the most recent census -- about 2.1% of the country's population of 45.1 million.
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Pope and Canadian Indigenous: 'Sorry' must fit the level of suffering (Mon, 14 Jun 2021)
Archbishop Donald J. Bolen of Regina, Saskatchewan, is pictured with Sister Priscilla Soloman, a member of the
Ojibway people and of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie, during a prayer ceremony in Rome in this Oct. 17, 2019, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis seems to have no trouble using the word "sorry" and recommending others use it often.
Then why, people wondered, did he not use the word when speaking about the horrific discovery of the remains of as many as 215 children in unmarked graves at a Catholic-run school for Indigenous
children in Canada?
Francis did express his condolences and sorrow June 6, recognizing the discovery brought up the
traumas of the past when the Canadian government policy was to send Indigenous children to residential schools as part of a mistaken effort at assimilation. Catholic religious orders ran most of
those schools, and stories of abuse are rampant.
But the pope's remarks in early June were a far cry from what the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action called for in 2015:
"We call upon the pope to issue an apology to survivors, their families and communities for the Roman Catholic Church's role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of
First Nations, Inuit and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year
of the issuing of this report and to be delivered by the pope in Canada."
Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny, who had had a meeting with the pope June 5, was asked about what the pope said after his Sunday Angelus talk and why an apology was not part of it.
The cardinal told CTV Edmonton that he thought the pope did not use the occasion to apologize because, yes, it would have been "a spontaneous moment, but if it's not well prepared, if we are
not ready to receive it -- more than to receive it, to live it" -- then it would not make a difference. Instead, "it is something that should change our lives."
Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina, Saskatchewan, said he believes the pope was "telling the leadership of the church in Canada" that the first step must be for them "to engage directly
with Indigenous peoples, that we need to work with them, to listen to them, to accompany them, to apologize where appropriate, to make amends where that is asked for, and to find ways to walk
The pope, he told Catholic News Service June 10, wants the bishops "to be very honest about the past," including "our sins and our terrible mistakes."
"He invites us to cultivate a penitential memory, to encourage people who have been wounded to speak about the past and never to ask them to suppress it," he said.
General expressions of sorrow and regret can be important, but they are no substitute for standing before the injured person and his or her family, acknowledging failure and requesting
Bolen said that the Indigenous people he has spoken with have differing opinions about inviting Francis to Canada, even though in the Canadian media there is a "clarion call."
But, he said, for many members of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, it is essential.
First, of all, he said, "most Indigenous people, especially Indigenous Catholics, see the pope as the chief," and "when there is a wound between families, the fathers are engaged in the
So, he said, many Indigenous Canadians are looking to the pope "to be connected, to take some ownership and to speak on behalf of the church."
Asking the pope to make the apology formally on Canadian soil is not an arbitrary request, the archbishop said. "The land is so central to Indigenous spirituality, to meet people on their land is
vital in terms of a relationship."
An initial step should take place before the end of the year.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced June 10 that a delegation of "Elders/Knowledge
Keepers, residential school survivors and youth from across the country" representing First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities is preparing to travel to the Vatican. The trip originally was
scheduled for last year but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pope, Bolen said, will be able to listen to their stories and hear, in person, what they need from him and the church.
It will not be enough, he said, but it is an important step.
Already in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI met with representatives of Canada's First Nations, expressed his sorrow for the suffering of Indigenous children over decades in the church-run residential
schools. But he did so privately. The Vatican press office later put out a statement and the representatives spoke to the press, but the apology was not public.
"That experience did not become the experience of Indigenous peoples in Canada; it became the experience of those who participated," the archbishop said. "It was a private encounter that was
powerful for those who participated," but many more people want and need to hear from the pope in person.
Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, who was then-nuncio to Canada, said in 2016 that Francis was considering a visit to Canada to make the apology. Then nothing more was said. Papal visits require an
invitation both from the government and from the national bishops' conference.
Since the news broke about the remains of children found at the Kamloops school, the Canadian bishops have not had a chance to meet. But, Bolen said, "I think there's a greater awareness
now than there has ever been of the waves of suffering, which flowed from the residential schools."
"The intergenerational trauma and legacy, the negative experience at those schools is very visible right now," he said. "Right now, it's very raw."
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Bishops must address Biden's policies that contradict Church teaching, theologians say (Tue, 15 Jun 2021)
President Biden reveals his rosary beads during a March 1, 2021 virtual meeting with Mexico’s
President López Obrador / The White House/YouTube
Washington D.C., Jun 15, 2021 / 15:35 pm (CNA).
President Joe Biden has advanced policies contrary to Church teaching on life, marriage, and sexuality – and bishops have a duty to address this contradiction, theologians said this week.
Regarding the legitimacy of political opinions in a democracy, “Catholics are free to have these various opinions – as long as they don’t counter moral law, natural law, and faith,” Monsignor
Charles Mangan of the Diocese of Sioux Falls told CNA on Tuesday.
“Authentic freedom,” he added, does not mean that Catholic voters and politicians can hold any opinion they want. Rather, it means “we are free in Christ, and we see the Church’s teaching as not a
burden, but as something that frees us to embrace what is true,” he added.
He stressed the need for a well-formed conscience. “Conscience does not fall out of the sky. It has to be informed. It has to be taught. It has to be nurtured and matured,” he said.
Speaking with CNA ahead of the U.S. bishops’ virtual meeting which begins on Wednesday, Dr. Chad Pecknold, a theology professor at the Catholic University of America, said the bishops must be
clear about where Biden’s administration runs afoul of Church teaching.
“It’s actually not Biden on trial right now, but the bishops,” Pecknold said. He noted that “Biden is almost a perfect pro-abort politician, and yet he claims to be a devout Catholic. The bishops
must make a clear statement about precisely that contradiction.”
Biden, who is just the second Catholic president in U.S. history, has pushed for taxpayer-funded abortion while his administration seeks to deregulate the abortion pill regimen and fund
international pro-abortion groups.
On the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris issued a statement supporting Roe and stating
their intent to codify it in law.
Days later, Biden on January 28 announced a series of executive actions that enabled funding of international pro-abortion groups and supported abortion as an international right.
Biden repealed the Mexico City Policy, an executive policy that bars U.S. funding of foreign NGOs that provide or promote abortions. His administration withdrew from the Geneva Consensus Declaration, a joint
statement of the United States and 31 other countries saying there is no international right to abortion.
In domestic abortion policy, Biden moved to allow for federal funding of elective abortions by introducing his budget request for the 2022 fiscal year without the Hyde amendment. That policy,
enacted in law since 1976 as a rider to budget bills, prohibited federal funding of most elective abortions in Medicaid.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also deregulated the abortion pill regimen, allowing for it to be prescribed and dispensed remotely during the pandemic instead of in-person, as
previously required. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, has expressed interest in making that rule-change permanent.
Biden’s administration is also moving to allow funding of domestic abortion providers or pro-abortion groups through the Title X program.
While the program was set up in 1970 with express prohibitions against funding of abortion as a method of family planning, the Clinton administration required recipients to provide abortion
referrals and counseling upon request.
That 2000 policy stood in place until the Trump administration in 2019 prohibited recipients from referring for abortions or being co-located with abortion clinics, in an attempt to separate
taxpayer funding from abortion-related services altogether. Planned Parenthood in 2019 announced it was withdrawing from the program rather than complying with the new requirements.
The Department of Health and Human Services in April proposed to restore the Clinton-era rules for the program, once again allowing abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood to
Biden’s administration has also lifted a moratorium on federally-funded research using fetal tissue derived from elective abortions. The Trump administration in 2019 halted such research at
federal facilities, and required other federally-funded research proposals at non-government facilities to undergo review by a federal ethics advisory board. In April, HHS lifted the moratorium and
removed the requirement for review by the ethics advisory board.
Meanwhile, Biden has expressed support for LGBT and transgender issues, and his administration has worked to require accommodation for these causes – despite religious or conscientious
On his first day in office on January 20, Biden issued a sweeping executive order redefining sex discrimination. He stated his administration’s policy to uphold sexual orientation and gender
identity as protected classes under federal civil rights law, extending to them the same protections as race in public accommodations.
“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” Biden stated.
Biden’s administration began implementing the order in a number of areas, including housing, education, and health care.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has said that male students identifying as transgender females have a right to compete in women’s athletics based on their gender identity.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has weakened protections for women’s shelters, withdrawing a proposed rule that would have allowed them to accept only women clients instead of
biological males identifying as transgender females. A Missouri Christian college also sued the administration over its interpretation of sex discrimination, saying that their policy of sex-specific
dormitory housing would be at risk.
In May, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a notice that legal experts warned would require doctors and hospitals to provide gender-transition procedures.
A coalition of Catholic doctors and hospitals had already sued the government over the Obama administration’s 2016 transgender mandate. While a federal district court granted some plaintiffs
permanent injunctive relief from the mandate, the Biden administration fought to appeal that case to a higher court.
In foreign policy, U.S. embassies have also been permitted to display the LGBT Pride flag during “Pride season.”
Biden also supports the Equality Act, sweeping legislation that would require acknowledgment of sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations. The U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops warned that the bill would “punish” objecting religious groups, and could require church halls to host pro-LGBT events, or women’s locker rooms and shelters to accept biological males.
“The big picture is that America seems only capable of electing Gallicans, Catholic presidents who don’t actually believe they should follow the Church’s teaching but should just follow their own
national preferences,” Pecknold said.
“And president Biden has proved himself to be someone who not only doesn’t agree with Church teaching,” he said, “but advances and promotes” policies that contradict Church teaching.
“And he does it in an obstinate refusal of any correction from any bishop, including the pope,” he said.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a doctrinal note in 2002 on participation of Catholics in political life. The document stressed the need for Catholics to
adhere to Church teaching, especially on grave issues such as abortion and euthanasia.
Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the CDF, cited the note in his letter to the U.S. bishops in May on the matter of Communion for Catholic public officials who support permissive legislation on
Monsignor Mangan quoted from the 2002 document on the importance of Catholics upholding the Church’s teaching on life. The 2002 document had a lot to do with “the participation of the laity in
terms of voting,” he said.
Democracy “succeeds only to the extent that it is based on a correct understanding of the human person,” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated. “Catholic involvement in
political life cannot compromise on this principle, for otherwise the witness of the Christian faith in the world, as well as the unity and interior coherence of the faithful, would be
“That word ‘coherence’ is used here,” Monsignor Mangan said, alluding to the recent statements by bishops on “Eucharistic coherence.” The term is “speaking about the unity and interior coherence
of the faithful,” he said.
Regarding the authority of a local ordinary in his diocese, Mangan emphasized the duty of a bishop “to teach, to proclaim, to sanctify, and to safeguard.”
“Safeguarding has a place. To safeguard the faith, to safeguard the dignity of human life, and the reverence due to the sacraments, I think that has a real definite place,” he said.
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Biden administration seeks death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber (Tue, 15 Jun 2021)
Mother and daughter at an April 21, 2013 candlelight vigil for those injured and killed
at the Boston Marathon bombings / Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Washington D.C., Jun 15, 2021 / 15:30 pm (CNA).
The Justice Department recently asked the Supreme Court to reinstate a death sentence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for his role in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Tsarnaev’s death sentence had been handed down by federal jury a lower court, and the Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to reinstate it, the Boston Globe reported Tuesday. The high court is scheduled to consider the death penalty for Tsarnaev in the fall, having granted certiorari to an appeal of a
federal court ruling that vacated his death sentence.
While the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations have now all pushed for the federal death penalty for Tsarnaev, the Boston archdiocese has instead called for life in prison without parole.
“The pain and suffering caused to the victims of the bombing and to their loved ones is as clear and real today as it was nearly eight years ago,” the archdiocese told CNA in May. “As we have
previously stated, Catholic teaching does not support the taking of life as a means of achieving justice.”
As a candidate for president, Biden called for the elimination of the death
Tsarnaev was convicted on four murder charges in 2015 for his role in the Boston Marathon bombings, which took place on April 15, 2013. The attack, committed alongside his brother, Tamerlan
Tsarnaev, killed three people and injured hundreds.
Tsarnaev’s death sentence was overturned last year by the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found the district court judge wrongly omitted evidence of Tamerlan committing a triple murder
in 2011, and did not properly ensure the jury was free of bias amid near-constant media coverage of the case, the Globe reported. The First Circuit ruling sentenced Tsarnaev to life in prison without
In the brief filed at the Supreme Court, lawyers
for the Department of Justice argued Tsarnaev’s role in the attack necessitated the original death sentence he was given, which they said should be reinstated.
The lawyers argued that a jury “carefully considered” each of Tsarnaev’s crimes and found that “capital punishment was warranted for the horrors that he personally inflicted,” noting that one of
his victims was a child.
“That determination by 12 conscientious jurors deserves respect and reinstatement by this Court,” the brief stated.
Biden, the second baptized Catholic to hold the office of president of the United States, is publicly opposed to the death penalty. His campaign said he would work to pass legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, and take steps to incentivize states to follow suit.
A spokesperson for the White House did not immediately respond to CNA’s request for comment.
The U.S. bishops’ conference opposed the Trump administration’s decision to resume federal executions after a 17-year moratorium. The conference said in an August 2020 statement that “the Church’s
opposition to the death penalty is clear.”
“Remembering the Lord’s call for mercy, we renew our plea: stop these executions!” the bishops said at the time.
In August of last year, after then-President Donald Trump expressed support for executing Tsarnaev, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston told CNA that “Catholic teaching
does not support the taking of life as a means of achieving justice.”
In May, the archdiocese stated that “the incomprehensible suffering of so many caused by this heinous crime should appropriately be met with a sentence of imprisonment for life with no possibility
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Cardinal Cupich: A world without nuclear weapons is ‘not some utopian dream’ (Tue, 15 Jun 2021)
Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago / Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Washington D.C., Jun 15, 2021 / 11:08 am (CNA).
Ahead of important international meetings this week, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago urged President Joe Biden and other world leaders to work for “a world without nuclear weapons” as a “moral
Cardinal Cupich wrote an op-ed published in The Hill on June 11, before Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet on June 16 in Geneva. American and Russian diplomats are
expected to begin negotiations on eventually replacing the 2010 New START nuclear arms control treaty, according to Politico. The two nations each control around 6,000 nuclear weapons each - about
90% of the world's total stockpile.
Cupich wrote that at Thursday’s summit between Biden and Putin, “top on the agenda should be establishing a climate in which the Review Conference can succeed in reducing the nuclear threat.” He
argued that the moment “could not be more urgent.”
“Nuclear weapons pose an existential threat to all life on Earth,” Cupich wrote. “Working toward a world without nuclear weapons, in which vigorous international monitoring and enforcement
mechanisms verify compliance, is not some utopian dream. It is, rather, a practical and moral necessity.”
The United States and Russia, as the two countries controlling most of the world's nuclear weapons, “have unique responsibilities in taking the lead to eliminate the nuclear threat,” he
The New START nuclear arms control treaty was set to expire in February before the Biden administration agreed to extend it for another five years. The United States and Russia are expected to
discuss what will replace the treaty in 2026. The 2010 agreement limited the number of strategically-deployed nuclear warheads for each country and allowed 18 annual on-site inspections of nuclear
facilities by the other country.
Other bishops - including Pope Francis - have advocated for a world without nuclear weapons.
Earlier this year, the Catholic bishops of Hiroshima and Nagasaki applauded the UN Treaty on the
Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, while expressing regret that more countries - including their own - did not sign it.
“As Catholic bishops and Japanese citizens of the A-bombed cities, we share Pope Francis’ confidence that a world free of nuclear weapons is possible and necessary ‘to protect all life,’”
Archbishop Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki and Bishop Mitsuru Shirahama of Hiroshima wrote in a joint statement on Jan. 22.
The UN treaty - which went into effect in January - marked the first multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty in more than twenty years. It was signed by 86 states, including the Holy See. But the
world’s main nuclear powers - including the United States - did not ratify the treaty.
During a 2019 visit to
the site of the 1945 atomic bomb detonation over Nagasaki, Pope Francis said, “This place makes us deeply aware of the pain and horror that we human beings are capable of inflicting upon one
“Peace and international stability,” Pope Francis said, “are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation.”
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Poll: Regular Mass attendees say politicians who oppose Church teaching on grave matters ‘create confusion’ (Tue, 15 Jun 2021)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 15, 2021 / 06:05 am (CNA).
A poll by a Catholic advocacy group released on Tuesday found that, among Catholics who attend Mass regularly, the vast majority say that Catholic politicians who take policy positions contrary to
Church teaching "create confusion" among the faithful.
The poll, conducted by CRC
Research on behalf of the advocacy group CatholicVote, found that 83% of Catholics who regularly attend Mass say public officials with stated positions contrary to Church teaching “create confusion
and disunity.” Nearly three-quarters, 74%, of regular Mass-goers say that these officials should not present themselves for Communion.
The poll was conducted from June 1-8, 2021, and surveyed 600 respondents. Respondents were nearly evenly split along party lines, with 49% saying they supported former President Donald Trump in
the 2020 election, compared to 51% who supported President Joe Biden.
Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote, said in a statement on Tuesday that “Catholic politicians who advocate for policies considered ‘gravely immoral’ create confusion and discord among
“Catholics’ concern about the flouting of Catholic social teaching by public leaders is less about politics and more about the integrity of the faith, along with reverence and respect due the Holy
Eucharist,” Burch said.
“This polling data should bolster the confidence of Catholic bishops as they prepare to discuss how to recover an understanding of the beauty and richness of the sacrament – among all Catholics.
The data is very clear: Bishops have an obligation to act,” he stated.
On Wednesday, the U.S. bishops will meet virtually at their annual spring general assembly. On Thursday, they are scheduled to deliberate and vote on whether to begin drafting a teaching document
on the Eucharist.
Although the deliberations are expected to include the topic of worthiness to receive Communion - including for pro-abortion Catholic politicians - the vote itself will simply focus on whether to
begin drafting the document on the Eucharist.
The document, a proposed outline of which CNA obtained several weeks ago, provides a comprehensive overview of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist. It covers topics such as the Real Presence,
Sunday as a holy day, Mass as sacrifice, the importance of the works of mercy, and “Eucharistic consistency” - worthiness to receive Communion.
“The document will include the theological foundation for the Church’s discipline concerning the reception of Holy Communion and a special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or
parochial leaders to witness to the faith,” the USCCB doctrine committee stated in the draft document proposal.
In the poll, 72% of respondents said the bishops “should discuss” admission to Communion “for Catholic public officials who promote grave moral evils.”
Among Catholics who attend Mass regularly, 88% “believe it is important for Catholic bishops to teach and lead others in matters of the faith,” CatholicVote reported. Meanwhile, 82% “believe
public officials who identify as Catholic but openly advocate for policies hostile to Church teaching are hypocritical.”
Biden is only the second baptized Catholic to hold the office of president of the United States. He frequently discusses the influence of his Catholic faith, but ran on a pro-abortion policy
platform that called for taxpayer-funded abortion.
He recently submitted a budget request to Congress that did not include the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortions in Medicaid. Biden’s budget request was the first since
President Clinton’s in 1993 to not include Hyde Amendment provisions. The amendment has been passed into law each year since 1976 as a rider to budget bills. In 1993, an amended version of Hyde was
eventually included in appropriations bills and signed into law.
The CatholicVote poll also found that 91% of Catholics who regularly attend Mass are eager to do so again as Churches re-open from COVID closures or restrictions.
The issue of distributing Communion to Catholic politicians who support permissive legislation on grave evils such as abortion and euthanasia has come under newfound debate recently. Individual
bishops have been speaking out in recent months about admission to Communion.
In May, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois said
that the issue “has taken on heightened urgency with the election of President Biden, a Catholic who promotes the evils of abortion, same-sex marriage, and transgenderism.”
According to canons 915 and 916 of the Code of Canon Law, he said, “a person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or to receive the Body of the Lord’ and that those ‘who
obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion’.”
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco wrote in a May 1 pastoral letter that any Catholic cooperating
with the evil of abortion should refrain from receiving the Eucharist - especially Catholic public officials who advocate for abortion. “You are in a position to do something concrete and decisive to
stop the killing,” he wrote, addressing those politicians. “Please stop the killing.”
In an April 14 column on Eucharistic coherence, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver wrote that “the Eucharist is a gift, not an entitlement, and the sanctity of that gift is only diminished by
unworthy reception. Because of the public scandal caused, this is especially true in the case of public officials who persistently govern in violation of the natural law, particularly the pre-eminent
issues of abortion and euthanasia, the taking of innocent life, as well as other actions that fail to uphold the church's teaching regarding the dignity of life.”
Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, in a Feb. 1 online forum, spoke against denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians.
“I do not see how depriving the president or other political leaders the Eucharist, based on their public policy stance, can be interpreted in our society as anything other than a weaponization of
the Eucharist and an effort not to convince people by argument, and by dialogue and reason, but rather, to pummel them into submission on the issue [of abortion],” he said.
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Wisconsin Catholic school victorious in reopening case (Mon, 14 Jun 2021)
Washington D.C., Jun 14, 2021 / 17:10 pm (CNA).
The Wisconsin state supreme court ruled in favor of a Catholic school last week in its case against a local prohibition on in-person learning during the pandemic.
“It's a big win and people should be rejoicing nationally because of the use of the state constitution to provide additional protection to the religious education of children,” one of the
appellate attorneys in the case, Erick Kaardal, told CNA.
The case of St. Ambrose Academy against executives of Dane County, Wisconsin, was officially decided on June 11.
Citing dangers of the pandemic, county public health official Janel Heinrich issued an emergency order last August which prohibited in-person learning at all county schools grades 3 to
St. Ambrose Academy announced last August that it and other Catholic schools were seeking the immediate revocation of the emergency order, “citing harm to ‘parents, children, and
schools across the County.’” They cited “freedom of conscience” clauses in the state constitution to make their case.
St. Ambrose said it had worked with county health officials to produce a 35-page plan to reopen safely that fall, before the order was issued.
The court initially issued a preliminary injunction in September 2020, temporarily stopping the county from enforcing the order. The court’s official ruling was delivered on Friday, in a 5-3
decision in favor of the schools.
In the majority opinion,Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley ruled that “local health officers do not have the statutory power to close schools,” and said that the prohibition on in-person education
“infringes the Petitioners' fundamental right to the free exercise of religion.”
Kaardal, special counsel at the Thomas More Society, told CNA on Monday that Heinrich's policy was disappointing for many reasons, but emphasized the exemption of certain grade levels. “The
University of Wisconsin-Madison could continue to meet in-person if it wanted to,” he said. “So, it seemed that the policy didn't make sense at a lot of levels.”
Kardaal said the “big message for Catholic schools across the country” is that the U.S. constitution and the state constitutions protect their right to exist and to operate according to their
“We need to be resourceful as Catholics to make sure to use the courts to protect ourselves when the government overreaches and tries to close down, modify, alter, or change our Catholic schools,”
he told CNA.
In the interview with CNA, Kaardal said that Friday’s decision provides a model for other courts to follow.
“The Wisconsin supreme court was very resourceful in finding a way to protect Wisconsin religious school students and their parents and protect that decision-making process,” he said.
Kaardal compared the significance of the St. Ambrose Academy case to the case of the Brooklyn diocese against New York state pandemic restrictions.
The U.S. Supreme Court said last November that New York state restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic were a violation of First Amendment protections of religious exercise.
“That was one big case,” Kardaal said, referring to the high court’s ruling in favor of the Diocese of Brooklyn. “And I think this is the second big case, out of the Wisconsin supreme court,
saying you can't shut down Catholic schools during a pandemic.”
Kaardal told CNA that the Wisconsin case is memorable because “it basically, in a blanket way says during a pandemic you can't close down religious schools - you got to find another way.”
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