Knights of Columbus Pope John Paul II Council 13808 Greensboro, GA
Knights of ColumbusPope John Paul II Council 13808Greensboro, GA
Mass suspension continues through April 19, school closures extended (Fri, 27 Mar 2020)
Due to the continued spread of COVID-19 in Georgia, the archdiocese will extend suspension of the Masses through Divine Mercy Sunday, April 19. Catholic school building closings will be extended through Friday, April 17. The post Mass suspension continues through April 19, school closures extended appeared first on Georgia Bulletin.
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Pope Francis announces extraordinary ‘urbi et orbi’ blessing March 27 (Mon, 23 Mar 2020)
In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis said he will give an extraordinary blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) at 6 p.m. Rome time Friday, March 27. The post Pope Francis announces extraordinary ‘urbi et orbi’ blessing March 27 appeared first on Georgia Bulletin.
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Roswell Catholic schools notify communities of a positive COVID-19 case  (Sat, 21 Mar 2020)
Administrators at Queen of Angels School and Blessed Trinity High School notified their respective communities on March 18 and 19 of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis for an elementary school staff member. The post Roswell Catholic schools notify communities of a positive COVID-19 case  appeared first on Georgia Bulletin.
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Changes to installation Mass for Archbishop Hartmayer announced (Fri, 20 Mar 2020)
Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, diocesan administrator for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, announced today that the installation of the new archbishop of Atlanta will take place in a private ceremony. The post Changes to installation Mass for Archbishop Hartmayer announced appeared first on Georgia Bulletin.
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A different kind of Lent (Thu, 19 Mar 2020)
The post A different kind of Lent appeared first on Georgia Bulletin.
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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 →
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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 →
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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 →
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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 →
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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 →
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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 →
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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 →
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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 →
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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 →
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Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, July 2, 2017 (Fri, 30 Jun 2017)
July 2, Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time       Cycle A. Readings:       1) 2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a       Psalm 89:2-3, 16-19       2) Romans 6:3-4, 8-11       Gospel: Matthew 10:37-42   By Beverly Corzine Catholic News Service One winter morning I awoke … Continue reading →
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COVID-19 is not God's judgment, but a call to live differently, pope says (Fri, 27 Mar 2020)
Vatican City This article appears in the Coronavirus feature series. View the full series. 20200327T1330-1324-CNS-POPE-BLESSING-COVID-19.jpg Pope Francis leads a prayer service in an empty St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 27, 2020. At the conclusion of the service the pope held the Eucharist as he gave an extraordinary blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world). The service was livestreamed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS/Reuters/Guglielmo Mangiapane) The worldwide coronavirus pandemic is not God's judgment on humanity, but God's call on people to judge what is most important to them and resolve to act accordingly from now on, Pope Francis said. Addressing God, the pope said that "it is not the time of your judgment, but of our judgment: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others." Pope Francis offered his meditation on the meaning of the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for humanity March 27 before raising a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament and giving an extraordinary blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world). Popes usually give their blessing "urbi et orbi" only immediately after their election and on Christmas and Easter. Pope Francis opened the service — in a rain-drenched, empty St. Peter's Square — praying that the "almighty and merciful God" would see how people are suffering and give them comfort. He asked to care for the sick and dying, for medical workers exhausted by caring for the sick and for political leaders who bear the burden of making decisions to protect their people. The service included the reading of the Gospel of Mark's account of Jesus calming the stormy sea. "Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives," the pope said. "Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them." Like the disciples on the stormy Sea of Galilee, he said, "we will experience that, with him on board, there will be no shipwreck, because this is God's strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things." The Gospel passage began, "When evening had come," and the pope said that with the pandemic and its sickness and death, and with the lockdowns and closures of schools and workplaces, it has felt like "for weeks now it has been evening." "Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void that stops everything as it passes by," the pope said. "We feel it in the air, we notice it in people's gestures; their glances give them away. "We find ourselves afraid and lost," he said. "Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm." However, the pandemic storm has made most people realize that "we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented," the pope said. And it has shown how each person has a contribution to make, at least in comforting each other. "On this boat are all of us," he said. The pandemic, the pope said, has exposed "our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities." In the midst of the storm, Francis said, God is calling people to faith, which is not just believing God exists, but turning to him and trusting him. 20200327T1405-1328-CNS-POPE-BLESSING-COVID-19.jpg Pope Francis holds the monstrance as he gives his extraordinary blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world) from the atrium of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican March 27, 2020. The blessing was livestreamed because of the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS/Reuters/Yara Nardi) As Lent and the pandemic go on, he said, God continues to call people to "convert" and "return to me with all your heart." It is a time to decide to live differently, live better, love more and care for others, he said, and every community is filled with people who can be role models — individuals, "who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives." Francis said the Holy Spirit can use the pandemic to "redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people — often forgotten people — who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines," but are serving others and making life possible during the pandemic. The pope listed "doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves." "How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility," he said. And "how many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer." "How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all," he said. "Prayer and quiet service: These are our victorious weapons." In the boat, when the disciples plead with Jesus to do something, Jesus responds, "Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?" "Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us," the pope said. "In this world that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything. "Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things and be lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet," Pope Francis said. "We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick," he said. "Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: 'Wake up, Lord!'" The Lord is calling on people to "put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be foundering," the pope said. "The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith," he said. "We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love." Pope Francis told people watching around the world that he would "entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, health of the people, and star of the stormy sea." "May God's blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace," he said. "Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak, and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm." Introducing the formal blessing, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, announced that it would include a plenary indulgence "in the form established by the church" to everyone watching on television or internet or listening by radio. An indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment a person is due for sins that have been forgiven. Catholics following the pope's blessing could receive the indulgence if they had "a spirit detached from sin," promised to go to confession and receive the Eucharist as soon as possible and said a prayer for the pope's intentions. Read full document: PDF icon Full text of Pope Francis' "urbi et orbi" blessing. English translation follows. // Advertisement Advertisement In This Series Vatican confirms: Member of papal residence positive for coronavirus Mar 28, 2020 Families in Mexico search for silver lining amid COVID-19 pandemic Mar 28, 2020 Pope thanks those who help, pray for vulnerable during pandemic Mar 27, 2020 Update: Catholic entities expect to receive aid under emergency relief bill Mar 27, 2020 3/27 Coronavirus Tracker: Fauci's formation, climate activists hit the screens Mar 27, 2020 View all ›
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Despite opposition, abortion is now legal in Northern Ireland (Fri, 27 Mar 2020)
Manchester, England 20200327T1026-1304-CNS-NORTHERN-IRELAND-ABORTION.jpg Pro-life supporters stage a silent demonstration Nov. 30, 2019, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Abortion will become legal in Northern Ireland March 31. (CNS/Reuters/Brian Lawless) The British government has pressed ahead with the legalization of abortion in Northern Ireland. A right of access to abortion was included in the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act 2019, which passed into law last October, and a legal framework for abortion provision was announced March 25. It allows abortion on demand in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, abortions up to 24 weeks for undefined mental or physical health reasons, and abortion up to birth if the fetus is considered to be disabled. The law permits abortions to be performed outside of hospitals and abortion clinics and limits the conscientious objection rights of medical staff. Nurses and midwives are allowed to carry out abortions along with doctors. The regulations, which were opposed by 79% of respondents during a consultation with the public on how they should be framed, will take effect March 31. Dawn McAvoy of Both Lives Matter, a pro-life group based in Northern Ireland, said: "The ground is moving beneath us. We are a nation in the midst of a pandemic, grieving for what is to come — the loss of life, security and the futures we imagined." "Given this season of grief we face, it seems somewhat fitting that it is now that the new regulatory framework for abortion provision in Northern Ireland has been announced," she said in a March 25 statement. "Tragically, too many abortions happen because, sadly, women fear life and choose death," she said. "It is more important than ever before that those of us who recognize and value both lives in every pregnancy offer better than abortion." She said that pro-life activists would work to offer "the practical, material and emotional services" pregnant women needed "to choose life." The Right to Life organization called upon the politicians of Northern Ireland, the majority of whom are pro-life, to repeal the "extreme change to the law" at the earliest opportunity. Until this legislation, Northern Ireland was the only part of the U.K. — and one of the few places within Europe — where doctors could be prosecuted for providing abortions. But politicians in London amended the bill on the governance of the province to introduce both abortion and same-sex marriage there unless self-government was restored within three months. The deadline was missed, and a new power-sharing agreement between Irish Nationalist and Loyalist factions, which originated from the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, was signed in January — almost exactly three years after self-government had collapsed. // Advertisement Advertisement
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Pope thanks those who help, pray for vulnerable during pandemic (Fri, 27 Mar 2020)
Vatican City This article appears in the Coronavirus feature series. View the full series. 20200327T0951-1292-CNS-POPE-MASS-HELP.jpg A nurse tends to a patient affected by COVID-19 as he arrives at a hospital in Liege, Belgium, March 23, 2020. Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to the many men and women who have been inspired to help the poor and accompany the sick and the elderly during the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS/Reuters/Yves Herman) Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to the many men and women who have been inspired to help the poor and accompany the sick and the elderly during the coronavirus pandemic. "These days, news has arrived of how many people are beginning to have a general concern for others — caring about the families who do not have enough to get by, the elderly who are alone, the sick in the hospitals — and who pray and try to give them some help," the pope said March 27 at the beginning of his livestreamed morning Mass. "This is a good sign," he said. "Let us thank the Lord for stirring up these feelings in the hearts of his faithful." The papal almoner's office announced March 26 that the pope was donating 30 ventilators to "hospitals in the areas most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic." The hospitals that will receive the new ventilators "will be identified in the coming days," the papal almoner's office said. In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's first reading from the Book of Wisdom, which describes the criticism of the wicked toward the righteous person who "reproaches us for transgressions of the law." "For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture, let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience," the reading stated. The pope said the reading was a prophecy that accurately described those who taunted Jesus on the cross, demanding he prove that he was the son of God. The ones who mocked Christ were not motivated by "simple hatred" but a "relentless fury," the pope said. "Behind all fury, there is the devil who seeks to destroy God's work. Behind an argument or an enmity, it could be the devil (working) from afar with normal temptations," he said. "But when there is fury, there is no doubt: there is the presence of the devil." This demonic fury, he continued, could be seen not only in those who acted against Jesus but also in the persecutions of Christians to "lead them to apostasy, to distance themselves from God." The pope recalled a story from bishops in "one of the countries that suffered under the dictatorship of an atheist regime" and the lengths that the authorities would go to persecute Christians. "On the Monday after Easter, the teachers were forced to ask the children: 'What did you eat yesterday?'" the pope recalled. "Some said, 'Eggs' and those who said 'eggs' were then persecuted to see if they were Christians because in that country they ate eggs on Easter Sunday. It got to this point: to see, to spy where there is a Christian in order to kill him. This is fury in persecution and this is the devil." The only way Christians can respond to this fury is to follow the example set forth by Christ and to remain silent, the pope said. "It is striking when we read in the Gospel that in front of all these accusations, all these things, Jesus was silent. In front of the spirit of fury, only silence, never justification. Never! Jesus spoke and he explained. When he understood that there were no words, silence," he said. Francis prayed that Christians would ask for the grace "to fight against the evil spirit, to argue when we have to argue. But before the spirit of fury, to have the courage to keep silent and let others speak." // Advertisement Advertisement In This Series Vatican confirms: Member of papal residence positive for coronavirus Mar 28, 2020 Families in Mexico search for silver lining amid COVID-19 pandemic Mar 28, 2020 COVID-19 is not God's judgment, but a call to live differently, pope says Mar 27, 2020 Update: Catholic entities expect to receive aid under emergency relief bill Mar 27, 2020 3/27 Coronavirus Tracker: Fauci's formation, climate activists hit the screens Mar 27, 2020 View all ›
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Update: Catholic entities expect to receive aid under emergency relief bill (Fri, 27 Mar 2020)
Cleveland This article appears in the Coronavirus feature series. View the full series. 20200326T1106-240-CNS-CATHOLIC-AGENCIES-RELIEF.jpg Carlos Roldan, director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Paterson, N.J., Food Pantries, is shown with pre-packed bags of food March 23, 2020, ready to be distributed to people impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It was reported March 26 that more than 3 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment during the past week, revealing a record high that demonstrated the extent of the pandemic's economic toll. (CNS/courtesy Catholic Charities, Diocese of Paterson) Catholic hospitals, parish schools and charitable agencies are among the entities hoping to receive partial relief under a massive $2.2 trillion emergency aid package unanimously approved by Congress in response to the crippling new coronavirus. They are just not sure when the aid will begin to flow, however. President Donald Trump was expected to sign the legislation into law soon after he received it from Congress. "At this point everyone is trying to figure out what got in and how it's going to help out," said Lisa Smith, vice president of advocacy and public policy at the Catholic Health Association of the United States. Senators approved the 880-page Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, during a late-night vote March 25. The House approved the measure by an overwhelming voice vote March 27 after members were forced to return to Washington by Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, who insisted that a quorum be present. Despite such a large expenditure, about half of the federal fiscal year 2020 budget, leaders of Catholic organizations said they expect another package will be needed before the coronavirus runs its course. Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives were seeking a quick vote on the measure March 27 through a voice vote, which would not require elected officials to reconvene in Washington. The bill includes $180 billion in health care spending, designating $100 billion for hospitals and care providers that are the hardest hit in responding to the coronavirus since the first U.S. case of the illness was confirmed Jan. 20. Another key provision finds aid in the form of loans that would become grants to small businesses and nonprofit organizations if staffing levels are maintained. In addition, unemployment insurance would be expanded for people who have suddenly found themselves out of work as companies — sometimes under government ordered shutdowns — have reduced hours or closed altogether in an effort to stem the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The Catholic health care system has taken a large financial hit, Smith told Catholic News Service March 26. She described how one hospital not affiliated with any health system was losing $1 million a day. Some hospital systems are seeing losses from $100 million to $600 million a month in the first weeks of the outbreak of the illness as they shift from normal operations to focus on the public health crisis, Smith said. "The problem is that the margins are not high, being not-for-profit hospitals, so it's creating a huge toll," she explained. "We need a sustained cash flow. ... Those are the things we were really advocating and trying to educate folks in the Senate and the White House and the House about." Smith said funds in the bill have been allocated for paying for hospital staffing as extra workers have been called in, supporting onsite day care for the children of hospital workers where possible and buying protective gear. Support for private and public schools is included in the bill, with $30.7 billion set aside in an Education Stabilization Fund. Of the total, elementary and high schools will receive $13.2 billion and higher education $13.9 billion. The funds are part of $377 billion allocated for small business assistance. 20200326T1106-241-CNS-CATHOLIC-AGENCIES-RELIEF.jpg Staff members at the Father English Center in Paterson, N.J., hand out bags of food to those in need March 23, 2020. It was reported March 26 that more than 3 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment during the past week, revealing a record high that demonstrated the extent of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic's economic toll. (CNS/courtesy Catholic Charities, Diocese of Paterson) Presentation Sister Dale McDonald, director of public policy and education research at the National Catholic Educational Association, told CNS the bill calls for money to be sent to states and then allocated to local school districts. Catholic schools will be able to apply for funds through those local school districts. Funds can be used for cleaning supplies, disinfecting schools and widening the use of technology to enable at-home learning. By using funds for such purposes, schools will be able to keep teachers and other staff members employed, which is the goal of the bill, McDonald said. "How that's all going to work and the particulars of what you can spend it on are very broad," she said. "The really intensive part of this will be working with the Department of Education on what the actual guidelines look like and how this money gets into the hands of people who need it." While welcoming the funding, McDonald said, "For many of our schools, the funds under the Education Stabilization Act are not going to be enough." She said many Catholic schools do not have the regular stream of income that public schools have through tax dollars, especially as unemployed parents cannot afford to pay tuition. "We want to get all that the government says our kids are entitled to. This taxpayer money being spent in this $2 trillion package," she added. Catholic colleges and universities also will see some relief, but not nearly as much as necessary, said Vincentian Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. Many ACCU members are facing tight cash flows, especially because they at least partially refunded room and board costs to students who had to vacate dormitories and opt for online learning. "For the most part they kept their employees as much as they could and they didn't have the money to refund. They just did the right thing. It put them in a very bad position with cash flow," he explained. Mainstream higher education institutions will receive about 90% of the funds allocated, or about $12.5 billion. Half has been designated for emergency student aid, leaving the other half for the institutions to share to help them recover some of the expense associated with responding to the illness. "We are incredibly grateful to be included (in the bill)," Holtschneider told CNS. "But as you can tell we still have a great struggle, especially for the smaller schools to stay open and continue to employ our workforce." Brian Corbin, executive vice president of member services at Catholic Charities USA, welcomed allocations in the CARES Act for a variety of social services, some of which are delivered by diocesan agencies. Among the specific items being funded are an additional $15 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps; $8.8 billion for child nutrition assistance; $4 billion for emergency solutions grants to address homelessness; $5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant that often funds social services such as food programs; and $200 million for the emergency food and shelter program. "Those are the monies we use to help clients," he said. Corbin explained that it appears local agencies will be able to access Small Business Administration loans under the bill to keep employees on staff. Another provision includes a $300 charitable deduction for all tax filers, even if they do not itemize deductions. The deduction may encourage people to donate to charitable agencies in a time of great need, Corbin said. Directions on implementing the expenditures remain to be written and Corbin said the agency plans to be "actively monitoring the development of those rules." // Advertisement Advertisement In This Series Vatican confirms: Member of papal residence positive for coronavirus Mar 28, 2020 Families in Mexico search for silver lining amid COVID-19 pandemic Mar 28, 2020 COVID-19 is not God's judgment, but a call to live differently, pope says Mar 27, 2020 Pope thanks those who help, pray for vulnerable during pandemic Mar 27, 2020 3/27 Coronavirus Tracker: Fauci's formation, climate activists hit the screens Mar 27, 2020 View all ›
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Older Catholics reflect on pandemic's effect on faith life, how they cope (Thu, 26 Mar 2020)
Portland, Ore. This article appears in the Coronavirus feature series. View the full series. 20200326T1348-256-CNS-SENIORS-MISSING-EUCHARIST.jpg B.J. Buxton tends the garden at her Medford, Ore., home March 19, 2020. Working in a garden beside a statue of Mary offers her another spiritual refuge at a time when public Masses are canceled amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (CNS/courtesy B.J. Buxton) Early in the coronavirus pandemic, even before Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland canceled public Masses, the advice came that Catholics 60 and older should stay away from liturgies. Their age put them in a high-risk category for suffering serious consequences from COVID-19. Though sensible, the measure came as a hard spiritual knock for older Catholics. Retired and reflective, they count parishes as the very hub of life. At the same time, they form the very foundation of their faith communities. Jean Mitchell, who turns 89 in May, usually sits near the front at The Madeleine Church in Northeast Portland. "With the Pharisees," she joked. Mitchell misses Mass and all that is part of it: friends, "wonderful music," youngsters plodding up for a blessing before children's liturgy, thought-provoking humor from Fr. Mike Biewend, the pastor. Then comes the pinnacle. "When our celebrant lifts the host and the wine to be consecrated, I recall what Jesus said: 'This is my body; this is my blood,'" Mitchell told the Catholic Sentinel, Portland's archdiocesan newspaper. "He made that plain to his disciples and all his followers that he was serious; the host and the wine become his body and blood. God can do anything." Mitchell imagines seeing long lines of parishioners and guests going to Communion. She loves knowing that she is one of millions who can receive Jesus. "I will miss those times," she said, "and look forward to having them again." Until the stay-at-home order came through March 23, B.J. Buxton made daily trips to the adoration chapel at Sacred Heart Church in Medford. She and the other adorers kept their social distance. But she wants no room between her and the Lord. Buxton, 72, has viewed Mass on the internet, and it is fine but lacking. "It is different to watch than to be there," she said. "I can say the prayers but I am not saying them with anyone. When I am at church I am with my faith family. They are right there. Participating with family in the body of Christ — there is nothing that can replace that." Buxton's parish-based faith-sharing group has changed to digital conversations, which also leave her wanting more community life. "When we can come together again, we need to be singing 'Alleluia' and rejoice," she said. There are some consolations. At home, Buxton is engaged in spiritual reading and tending her garden, which includes a statue of Mary. "It's heartbreaking that I cannot receive the Eucharist and that we will not be able to attend Mass at Easter," said Kathy Phillips, a member of the pastoral council at Holy Trinity Parish in Bandon. "The catechumens scheduled to be baptized on Holy Saturday won't be able to enter the church. It is testing our faith. We need to be strong." Kitt Jordan, 74, has been blind since an accident in his youth. Touch, the presence of other people in his vicinity, is vital to him. Mass on a screen lacks what he yearns for. 20200326T1348-257-CNS-SENIORS-MISSING-EUCHARIST.jpg B.J. Buxton reads "The Tears of Christ," daily reflections by St. John Henry Newman, in her Medford, Ore., home March 19, 2020. With public Masses canceled amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Catholics are turning to home spiritual practice. (CNS/courtesy B.J. Buxton) "It does not have the kick it has in person," said Jordan, a member of The Madeleine in Portland. "I miss the Eucharist." That said, Jordan did enjoy listening to a video Biewend sent March 17. The priest, in his apartment, did a jig as a St. Patrick's Day greeting and blessing. Jordan and wife Corinne belong to the World Apostolate of Fatima, a Marian Catholic group. Those meetings also have been canceled. Jordan worries about "getting out of spiritual shape." So he and Corinne say the rosary and the chaplet of divine mercy in their living room every day and say night prayers. "Being a longtime advocate of accepting the will of God, I can be comfortable with accepting what his will brings about," said Connie Manning, a 90-year-old member of St. Rose Parish in Northeast Portland. Manning belongs to a parish book club, which also has suspended in-person meetings. Last year, a fellow book club member gave Manning Jean-Pierre De Caussade's "Abandonment To Divine Providence." "This book reinforced my acceptance of the will of God," said Manning. Then, in February, Fr. Matt Libra gave all parishioners a copy of "The Surrender Novena." "This is another powerful encouragement to trust in God, himself, to watch over everything in your life," said Manning, who also reads the Magnificat Missal at home and has watched Mass online. "As a child, I heard adults discussing how one day all churches would be locked, and we wouldn't be able to enter and worship God," said Sharon Hennick, director of religious education at Holy Trinity Parish in Bandon. "That sounded like something that would not happen — never in the United States of America," she said. "I feel devastated that Palm Sunday and the Easter Triduum will pass without attending Mass and feeling the presence of the risen Christ." Priests also are struggling. "It has been a very challenging time as a priest, especially not being able to celebrate Mass with the people of God," said Fr. Anthony Ahamefule, parish administrator in Bandon. "Our closeness to one another in the parish, which reflects our closeness to God, has been greatly affected due to the coronavirus. However, our faith, hope, and trust in God carry us through in dark times." Many Catholics look forward brightly to the day when Mass returns. "As the foundation of my faith and an integral part of my walk with Jesus Christ, it makes me think more that the first time back will be a day to always remember, along with an unforgettable Lent," said Pete Lennon, a member of St. Rose in Portland. // Advertisement Advertisement In This Series Vatican confirms: Member of papal residence positive for coronavirus Mar 28, 2020 Families in Mexico search for silver lining amid COVID-19 pandemic Mar 28, 2020 COVID-19 is not God's judgment, but a call to live differently, pope says Mar 27, 2020 Pope thanks those who help, pray for vulnerable during pandemic Mar 27, 2020 Update: Catholic entities expect to receive aid under emergency relief bill Mar 27, 2020 View all ›
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CNA Daily News - US

‘So much of this is out of our control’: Pregnancy amid a pandemic (Sun, 29 Mar 2020)
Denver, Colo., Mar 29, 2020 / 05:00 am (CNA).- Sarah Sefranek, a Catholic wife and mother living in Parker, Colorado, is 37 weeks pregnant with her fourth child. While she normally homeschools her other children even when there’s not a global pandemic on, coronavirus restrictions have changed what normal life looks like for everyone. “It’s not regular homeschooling” right now, she said. “Regular homeschooling means you go out, you see your friends, you do exciting things.” Sefranek and her family have been doing their best to stay home and maintain social distancing in order to avoid getting the coronavirus, especially so close to her due date. They’ve stopped going to the library, they’ve stopped playdates and book club meetings. Sefranek told CNA her husband leaves the house only to get groceries or other essentials. But, like most pregnant women, even if Sefranek remains healthy, labor, delivery and postpartum recovery will likely look very different for her than they would have without pandemic restrictions. “I know the things that were helpful to me when my (other babies) came, like having a meal train and having my mom come over. Now I can't have playdates for my big kids while I'm recovering. I don't even know where people are going to get the meat to make me meal for a meal train. So it is strange,” Sefranek said. Things “suddenly felt a lot more serious” for Sefranek when her doctor offered to do a telemedicine visit for her 38 week appointment instead of an in-clinic appointment. Normally, at this point in pregnancy, Sefranek would be going in for weekly visits until she delivers. But her doctor told her this time, unless she had serious concerns that something was wrong, it would be best to do the visit over a video call. Looming large among Sefranek’s worries - what happens if she, or her baby, get coronavirus? “Recommendations are changing all the time, but right now, if I tested positive, they would want to separate the baby from me at birth, which is pretty scary to me,” she said. There is also a shortage of coronavirus tests in most places in the U.S. Sefranek wonders what would happen if she showed up to the hospital to deliver, and had a cough or a fever, but could not get tested. “I feel a little bit like I have to hide in even more of a bubble, because I feel I can't catch anything at all. In a way, I feel I'm more scared of being separated from baby than I am of the virus itself,” Sefranek added, which she admits is “maybe not rational.”   A dearth of research on coronavirus and pregnancy   Information about pregnancy and coronavirus is scant, as the disease is so new and there has not been enough time for extensive research.  While pregnant women are not considered immunocompromised in the classic sense of the term, their immune systems are considered “suppressed,” meaning they are more susceptible to illnesses like the flu or coronavirus, and may suffer more severe symptoms and complications than they normally would have, were they not pregnant. “With viruses from the same family as COVID-19, and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, women have had a higher risk of developing severe illness. It is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses,” the CDC website states. The CDC notes that it is still unknown whether mothers infected with coronavirus could pass the illness on to their babies, though it says that so far, no infants born to COVID-19 positive mothers have also tested positive for COVID-19. The virus has also thus far not been found in the amniotic fluid or breast milk of mothers who have tested positive. There have been a small number of reported complications in pregnancy or delivery in mothers who are COVID-19 positive, though the CDC notes that it is unclear if the complications were related to the infection. Women of childbearing age are also in age categories where coronavirus death rates are not as high as older populations. Jennifer Murphy is the medical director of the Pregnancy Support Center of Carroll County in Maryland. The pregnancy center helps women in crisis pregnancies or with low incomes with material assistance such as diapers, with medical care such as pregnancy tests or sonograms, and by connecting them with additional resources. Murphy told CNA that so far, her center has not had any of their clients test positive for coronavirus. As a precaution, they have moved most of their operations to the parking lot, and only bring women into their facility if necessary, and once they have been screened for symptoms. “You always worry that pregnant women are more susceptible to things than other people. So far, the data doesn't seem to show that,” Murphy said. “I'm not making light of it, but there's so much in the news that's horrifying, but most people will actually come through this just fine, and there's not so far any evidence that pregnant women do worse than anyone else,” she added. Murphy said she has been telling her clients to remain calm, to practice good hygiene and quarantine protocols, and to be in close contact with their doctors if they do suspect symptoms of coronavirus. “It's a lot of quelling of anxiety, a lot of folks who are just very afraid, and understandably,” Murphy said. “But anxiety isn't good for you when you're pregnant either, so we're trying to emphasize positive things they can do quarantine-wise, and keeping their environment clean and calm as much as possible, and trying not to think too far ahead about bad things.” “Pregnancy is a time of anxiety anyway, especially first time moms,” Murphy added. “And it's hard not to have this add a great burden, but just to try to stay focused on a few good things and taking care of your baby. So just (focus on) keeping yourself safe, and probably not even overexposing yourself to media, because I think that just makes it worse,” she said. “Be informed, but don't make yourself crazy.”   Disrupting birth plans   The lack of information on pregnancy and coronavirus worries Anna H., a Catholic in Long Island, New York, where the pandemic has hit the hardest in the U.S. thus far. She is 22 weeks pregnant with her first child. “It's just the unknown,” Anna told CNA. “There isn't enough research on how it affects pregnant women, how it affects babies. I know there's a lot of research that says that it probably isn't too bad for the babies, but I also have asthma,” she adds, an underlying condition that could worsen the effects of coronavirus, a respiratory disease. Anna, who teaches high school theology, said her school has been closed since March 12. She’s been teaching online, which is easier on her body, and she’s less worried about exposure now that she and her husband are working from home. She said she’s also grateful for the stay-at-home order in her state, and hopes the aggressive approach will slow the spread of the virus and relieve some of the pressure on hospitals and doctors. Already in New York, some overwhelmed hospitals are not allowing pregnant women to bring any support people with them - no spouses, parents, children, friends or doulas. “I'm pretty nervous about that,” Anna said. She and her husband joke that they would schedule a home birth with a midwife if it came down to him not being allowed at the birth - and Anna knows a Catholic mom in the area who has delivered all five of her children at home. But she’s hoping it doesn’t have to come to that, and that things will calm down by the time she needs to deliver. “Right now I feel like we don't need to worry about that too much. We can put it in God's hands for now,” she said. Baylyn Wagner, who is 28 weeks along and due on June 19th with her third child, has already decided to change her labor and delivery plans in light of the coronavirus pandemic. “Initially I thought, ‘Oh, it'll for sure be over and done with by June and we won't have to worry about delivery,’” Wagner, who lives in Minnesota, told CNA. But then she started hearing reports of hospitals restricting support people for pregnant women to one person, or to no one. Her own hospital emailed her and told her that they would only allow one support person, even though Wagner had been planning on her husband, doula, and birth photographer attending her labor and delivery. Wagner said her doctor tried to reassure her. Wagner had a late loss in her second pregnancy - she miscarried a little after 21 weeks - and in light of that, Wagner’s doctor said she would do her best to advocate for the hospital to make an exception for Wagner’s husband to be present for the birth of their third child. “But she said if it gets to ‘full crisis mode,’ those were her words, they absolutely could limit it down because their priority is keeping their staff healthy. I know hospitals are doing what they can, but for us...with the anxiety we already had with this pregnancy, we chose to look into midwives to do a home birth option,” she said. After talking with four different midwives, Wagner said it sounded to her like a lot of couples were making the same changes. Wagner said they’ve also changed their contract with their birth photographer to a more tentative plan, that accounts for whether the photographer is sick and cannot come to the birth. Wagner lives with her grandparents, so she said they will watch her son while she gives birth at home. Her grandfather is also a Catholic deacon, and she said she is considering asking him to baptize her child soon after the birth, in the event that churches are not yet open. “There's really no way to know right now what things will look like by June, if things will be better, if we'll able to have Masses again by that point, or what the world will look like,” Wagner said.   Keeping calm, trusting God Claire Le, who lives in Littleton, Colorado, is expecting her first child with her husband Huy. The Le’s said they stocked up on food as they saw the pandemic worsening, and since then they have been staying home as much as possible to avoid any exposure. “My main fear is if I contract the virus, then I would have been in ICU and then my husband can't be there during the delivery,” Claire said. “And then also, if hospital protocols get even worse, there may even be a chance he may not be there. So, right now we're trying to control what we can, and trying to both stay healthy.” “I think we just constantly remind ourselves that this is not in our control,” Huy added. “I mean, we can pray for a good May 1st due date where everything's just back to normal, but things like that are not really under our control.” Thinking about postpartum recovery is what makes Claire a little sad, she said. Her family is out in California, and they were planning to come see the baby and help out after the birth. But now, they’re not sure when a visit will be possible. Huy and Claire are also wondering about the baptism, and if it will be performed privately. Claire said she has found peace in prayer and offering up the situation to God. “I know God's been with us from the very beginning, from conception, and he's been with us the whole way. I know we'll be okay,” she said. Huy said staying connected with loved ones, watching daily Mass on YouTube, and praying together as a couple has been helping them stay calm at this time. “We went to a chapel which was relatively quiet, that gives us a little bit of a release where we can just go there and with God for a while,” he said. Anna said she has been trying to balance her worries and anxieties by also counting her blessings. “I always try to think about what blessings I have at this time: more time with my husband, more time prepare for the baby, more time to rest,” she said. “The fact that I'm not on my feet all the time is really helpful...teaching is physically demanding because you're on your feet so much.” The time at home has also afforded her more time to pray, Anna said. “I did a novena to St. Gerard (a patron saint of pregnancy) when we first got pregnant and I just started the other day to do another novena to St. Gerard,” Anna said. “(I’m also) able to live stream daily mass, where normally when I'm a teaching I don't have time for that.” Wagner said she and her husband have been trying to say a daily rosary in order to stay calm at this time. “(We’re) especially meditating on what Mary and Joseph went through and their pregnancy and their birth with Jesus, and uniting our own uncertainty to what they experienced,” she said. She’s also been using Hallow, a Catholic prayer app that leads users through guided meditations similar to the popular Calm app, but based on Scripture readings. “They've had a whole series of little guided meditations on different ways to cope with isolation and stress through all of this, so that's been a nice tool and prayer as well,” she said. Sefranek said the pandemic has made her identify more closely with women experiencing unplanned pregnancies, and helped her realize how much of life is out of her control. “I planned this pregnancy nine months ago,” Sefranek said. “I didn't plan to have a baby in the middle of pandemic...maybe every pregnancy, every birth, in a way, is unplanned.” “I don't want to diminish the pain and the difficulty of a real crisis pregnancy,” she added. “It just is reminding me of that…(because) so much of this outside of my control.” Sefranek said she’s been saying a lot of “midnight rosaries” when she wakes up from pregnancy discomfort, and that’s been helping her to feel at peace, though she deeply misses the sacraments. She said she’s also been connecting with loved ones virtually to help ease her anxieties. She is also paying attention to the small blessings in her life. For example, she said, the other day she found out that she had two extra boxes of sticks for her fertility monitor that she will need to track her cycle once the baby is born. She had previously been worried - panic buying has caused the sticks to be scarce online. “(It was) a small thing, but maybe God had a plan for me and he used my absent mindedness to give me this small thing right now that could increase my peace,” she said. “So that was a nice reminder that God can work through the things that feel really frustrating in the moment.”  
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HHS clarifies protections for coronavirus patients with disabilities (Sat, 28 Mar 2020)
Washington D.C., Mar 28, 2020 / 03:10 pm (CNA).- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is reminding federally-funded health providers that they cannot ration health care based upon the disabilities of patients. “In this time of emergency, the laudable goal of providing care quickly and efficiently must be guided by the fundamental principles of fairness, equality, and compassion that animate our civil rights laws,” the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) stated in a bulletin on Saturday. “As such, persons with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative ‘worth’ based on the presence or absence of disabilities,” the bulletin states. The document outlines existing civil rights protections in health care for people with disabilities, in particular Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. These are both in force, HHS said, and they prohibit discrimination on basis of disability in federally-funded health programs. On a conference call with reporters on Saturday, the HHS OCR director Roger Severino said that “we’re doing everything we can to inform health care providers of their obligations under the law,” and that the bulletin “is the first step.” He said that his office had received “several” complaints about state crisis standards of care being developed in response to the new coronavirus pandemic. The office was in the process of starting investigations into those complaints he said. As there are now more than 100,000 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S., states are considering “triage” plans in the event that their hospitals and health care systems are overwhelmed by an expected surge in new coronavirus patients. Such plans would detail how critical care, such as ICU beds and ventilators, would be rationed in such a crisis. However, advocates are sounding the alarm that the plans could be used to deny care to people with disabilities and the elderly, based upon their supposed likelihood of survival. Severino on Saturday clarified the existing civil rights protections for people with disabilities, and said that they were grounded in fundamental American principles. “Part of the greatness of America is not simply our military might or our economic power, but the beauty of our character in how we treat the most vulnerable among us,” he said. “We are not a society that is guided by some sort of ruthless utilitarianism, but one guided by compassion, justice, and fairness. And those principles are embodied in our civil rights laws.” Last week, disability rights groups in Washington state said they had filed a complaint with the HHS OCR over a triage plan being developed by state health officials that they said posed a danger to persons with disabilities. “While discussions about the details of the plan may be evolving, it is clear that it will discriminatorily disadvantage people with disabilities,” the groups’ letter stated, citing guidance by the state’s health department that reportedly “recommends that triage teams consider transferring hospital patients with ‘loss of reserves in energy, physical ability, cognition and general health’ to outpatient or palliative care.” This week, 30 members of Congress wrote HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Attorney General William Barr, requesting that they issue guidance to states on the civil rights protections. Severino said on Saturday that he was “concerned” that state crisis standards of care might be based on “value judgements” and “stereotypes” about the worth of someone’s life. “This is about fairness, equality, inclusion, and justice under our civil rights laws,” he said. Religious health providers objecting to state standards of care could also be protected under federal law, Severino said. For example, a religious hospital might wish to preserve the life of a patient with down syndrome, contrary to state standards of crisis care mandating that ventilators be given to patients with the supposed highest likelihood of survival. “That could be an issue that could arise that is included in these questions of resource allocation,” Severino said.
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EWTN’s Warsaw: Network can be a ‘lifeline’ during pandemic (Sat, 28 Mar 2020)
CNA Staff, Mar 28, 2020 / 07:00 am (CNA).- The chairman and CEO of EWTN said Thursday that the media network will remain open and on the air during the coronavirus pandemic. In a March 26 interview, EWTN’s Michael Warsaw said that the organization’s ministry is more urgent than ever. “I think there's so much anxiety. There's so much fear. People feel untethered. And I think one of the things that EWTN provides is a place that people can turn to ground themselves, to connect themselves with the faith and really to find reassurance that God is there for them in this really difficult time,” Warsaw said on EWTN News Nightly. Warsaw stressed that although the global pandemic has affected the lives of everyone, including EWTN employees, policies are in place to ensure that news and catechetical output will continue. He said that as the virus spread from the Asia-Pacific region, through Europe - and especially Italy - before arriving in the United States, the global media group adapted to the changing circumstances.  “Most of our employees are working remotely. And we have essential staff who are still on duty in their posts in Irondale and here in Washington and elsewhere,” Warsaw said. “And we're certainly prepared if we need to do more restrictions.”  “The bottom line of that is that we will continue to air our channels. We will continue to produce programming, particularly the Mass, news, other key programming that will continue, and we're prepared for that to continue.” Warsaw stressed that, in addition to its news outlets, EWTN’s pastoral and catechetical content is an important resource for Catholics, and that with shelter-in-place orders active in many parts of the United States and the world, it is vital to serve as a link with the Church and with the wider communion of the faithful. In response to the coronavirus, all Latin rite dioceses in the United States have suspended public Masses, with many bishops ordering the total closure of church buildings. Bishops have encouraged Catholic to watch livestreamed liturgies, and to use the media of television, radio, and the internet to foster prayer and spiritual communion. In these circumstances, Warsaw said, many Catholics have told him that EWTN’s output serves as a “lifeline.”  “One of the things that I think we've heard so much about is, with all of the churches closed and the inability of people not just in this country, but globally, really to be able to attend Mass on Sunday, people tying into our Mass and participating remotely in our Mass, has been really a lifeline for many people to the practice of their faith, the ability to watch the Mass on EWTN, both on our linear channels, but also online on,” Warsaw said. “From its founding, Mother Angelica always wanted EWTN and its audience to be a family. And I think in this time and in this moment we are very much a family for one another,” he added. During the interview, Warsaw encouraged “three things that our EWTN family can do” together.  “One is, certainly, pray. We need to pray for one another. Pray for the network, as we pray for them. I think, secondly, share what they have in the gift of EWTN. This is a great opportunity to evangelize. If people are benefiting by EWTN, they need to share that with their friends, share that with their family. That's a very effective way of helping others and evangelizing in this moment.”  Third, Warsaw said, “keep us between your gas and electric bill, as Mother Angelica would always say.”  “It's very important that we have the resources to be able to continue our mission and to continue to execute our mission to a much, much larger audience of people that are turning to us at this time.”  “Financial support is critical for us in this moment as well,” Warsaw said. “And we're always obviously very grateful to our EWTN family for that.” “So many people have commented how much that has meant to them and how meaningful that has been to them -- to be able to have that opportunity to pray and to know that when they are praying, when they are participating in and watching, that they're doing so with people all over the world who are part of that EWTN family.”  Warsaw said that, at a time when so many are looking for meaning and answers in the face of a pandemic, EWTN is “really trying to be a resource for people, and to give people hope, and to remind people that in this moment, what's most important is that we need to keep our eyes fixed on Christ.” “They're looking for hope and they're looking for answers. And I think them coming to EWTN is a beautiful thing and a way for them to find those answers and to find that hope that they're looking for,” he said. EWTN Global Catholic Network is the largest religious media network in the world. EWTN’s 11 global TV channels are broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to over 300 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories. EWTN platforms also include radio services transmitted through SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 domestic and international AM & FM radio affiliates; a worldwide shortwave radio service; one of the largest Catholic websites in the U.S.; electronic and print news services, including Catholic News Agency, The National Catholic Register newspaper, and several global news wire services; as well as EWTN Publishing, its book publishing division.
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'A surge of hope': The fight to keep crisis pregnancy centers open (Sat, 28 Mar 2020)
Washington D.C., Mar 28, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Facing limited hours and a shortage of supplies, crisis pregnancy centers are working and praying with pregnant women, helping any way they can during the pandemic. “I think we need to storm the heavens for all the women in crisis pregnancies, because they are in crisis, which means there’s a crisis at home. And if they’re sheltered-in-place, that means they’re in a situation of crisis, and they can’t get out,” said Mathilde Mellon, founder and CEO of Mulier Care – Pregnancy Help Center in Nashville, Tennessee. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread quickly in the U.S., with more than 62,000 confirmed cases on Wednesday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University. Businesses and non-profits across the U.S. are closing down or limiting their hours for public safety, and to comply with state and local health mandates. This means that crisis pregnancy centers are having to operate short-staffed, at a distance, or even close their doors completely in a time when they are concerned abortion rates will go up. Pregnancy centers are now developing new care plans, providing counseling over the phone or delivering needed supplies such as diapers and baby formula to the women who need them. The Sisters of Life run their “Visitation Mission” in New York City for expectant mothers, and in the past weeks have been ensuring that women have the diapers, food, cribs, and strollers that they need, said Sister Virginia Joy who directs the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of New York. A volunteer network has been sending food and gift cards for mothers and families, and women are being helped in their moves to maternity homes in different parts of the country. Front Royal Pregnancy Center in rural Virginia, 75 miles west of Washington, D.C., is still operating but on an “essentials-only” policy. If women call ahead for material assistance, clinic helpers can bring baby formula or diapers to their door, and the clinic is still accepting phone calls for consultations on a case-by-case basis. “Last week, we had a huge drop in the number of people who came to us for services,” clinic worker Olivia McDonough told CNA on Monday. The clinic normally serves 25 clients in a week, she said, but had just five clients last week. In California, the state’s governor Gavin Newsom issued a shelter-in-place order on March 19. Marie Leatherby, executive director of the Sacramento Life Center, said it is “challenging” for the center to maintain its day-to-day operations with the mandate. “Right now we’re running just kind of with the skeleton staff, mostly doing phone consultations, nurse consultations,” she said, as well as “drive-by baby care packages with diapers or baby baskets for newborns.” Other centers have had to close their doors, such as Nashville’s Pregnancy Help Center. “It’s devastating, because Planned Parenthood is still open, and our mayor won’t shut them down, and they’ve been deemed an essential service,” Mathilde Mellon told CNA. “Apparently, their abortions are a critical medical procedure, and it’s horrible.” Mellon also runs a mobile medical unit, but had to halt its operations as well out of concern for the safety of her staff. Abortion providers elsewhere have either been allowed to remain open or have done so in defiance of state orders. Planned Parenthood affiliates in New York told Buzzfeed News last week that their doors were open. In Ohio, Planned Parenthood affiliates continued to perform surgical abortions despite the state’s health department curtailing all non-essential or elective surgeries by the evening of March 18. The state’s attorney general wrote Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio’s Cincinnati surgery center on March 20, ordering them to “immediately stop performing non-essential or elective surgical elective abortions.” The president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser, said that Planned Parenthood is “continuing to put abortion and profits before health and safety.” On Tuesday, Dannenfelser and a coalition of pro-life leaders wrote to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, asking him to urge abortion providers to cease operations and donate their personal protective equipment to hospitals for staff to treat the new coronavirus. Other states, such as Washington and Massachusetts, have allowed abortions to continue despite canceling other elective surgeries. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, meanwhile, has applied the governor’s order to curtail most abortions in the state. In New York, pro-life advocates frantically called the Respect Life Office saying that abortion clinics in the Bronx were packed with staff and clients, Sister Virginia Joy told CNA— a clear safety hazard in the very epicenter of the U.S. pandemic. Tennessee Right to Life has been petitioning the state’s governor Bill Lee to shut down abortion facilities but “have not heard back” from the office, Mellon said. Nashville’s mayor John Cooper has been sympathetic to the abortion industry, she said, and “Planned Parenthood has got a stronghold here in Davidson County.” And the fact that abortion providers remain open in a climate of fear and economic uncertainty is almost certainly bad news, pro-life advocates warn. “We’re definitely worried about that,” McDonough told CNA. “I think that the economics is always the deciding factor with women considering abortion.” “There’s just a lot of anxiety and fear, right now,” Leatherby said, noting that the phone calls and consultations at the Sacramento Life Center “just seem to be the abortion-minded in the past two weeks.” On Monday the center had several callers hang up in the middle of the conversation. “We couldn’t seem to get women to want to talk to us. They just want that abortion, and that’s it, and there’s nothing we can do for them,” Leatherby said. “ In another case, a woman was told by her family that she was being selfish in bringing a child into the world at this time, Sister Virginia Joy said. In this case, pro-lifers need to be “getting them to be able to answer what they most want,” she said. “I think when you get to the bottom of a woman’s heart, what she most desires is to give life to her child.” Tennessee’s abortion regulations—an “informed consent” provision and a mandatory 48-hour waiting period before having abortions—are still in effect, Mellon said, perhaps helping to reduce the number of abortions for women who are traveling to facilities in the state. With the new coronavirus has come mass restrictions on businesses, and layoffs of workers have begun. U.S. consumers also began “panic buying” non-perishable items including baby diapers, which affected the supplies of local pregnancy care centers. Leatherby noted that “the stores are all out of diapers and wipes,” and that several women had called the center looking for supplies as their baby showers had been canceled. In Front Royal, women who had lost their jobs did request formula or diapers last week, McDonough said, adding that “we’re expecting to see a lot more clients like that over the next few weeks.” Centers are also concerned about donations coming in. “Our fundraisers are all going by the wayside,” Leatherby said, noting that “anybody that could spare a gift would be really great, because I think that’s going to be a big worry coming up.” “God is good. He’s taken care of the Life Center for 48 years now,” she said. Prayers, however, are most needed, pro-life leaders say. “It’s a supernatural grace that these women have to receive to choose life. It really has to be a work of the Holy Spirit,” Sister Virginia Joy said. Last week, five women reportedly turned around before entering area abortion clinics even though no sidewalk counselors were present, she said. They had seen people praying outside the clinic, and “that, kind of gave them a surge of hope,” she said. “They saw it as a sign to reach out for a different sort of help, not abortion, but to actually be able to choose life.” The present crisis also presents a critical “opportunity” for society to rediscover the human dignity of the most vulnerable, she said. “This could potentially be a huge moment of conversion, this desire to preserve life in the face of this virus,” she said. “May it be an opportunity to preserve and uphold the dignity of every human life at all stages.”
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Brooklyn pastor is first Catholic priest in US known to die of coronavirus (Sat, 28 Mar 2020)
CNA Staff, Mar 27, 2020 / 10:21 pm (CNA).- A Brooklyn parish announced the death of its pastor, Fr. Jorge Ortiz-Garay, who died of coronavirus at approximately 6 p.m Friday evening. The priest is the first in the U.S. known to have died from the virus. Journalist Rocco Palmo was the first to report that the priest died from the virus, which is the cause of a global pandemic. On March 24, the Diocese of Brooklyn announced that a priest at St. Brigid’s Parish in Brooklyn, where Ortiz was pastor, had contracted the coronavirus. On the same day, the parish posted on its Facebook page that Ortiz was “under observation in the hospital” and requested prayers “for his speedy recovery.” On March 27, the parish posted on its Facebook page again: “With a very sad heart, we inform you of the death of our dearest pastor, Father Jorge Ortiz Garay. We ask for your prayers for his eternal rest. We also ask you in a special way to pray for his parents, siblings, nieces and nephews who have lost a very special and loved person by his family, our community and many people around the country.” Ortiz was born in Mexico City, and, according to his parish website, “At age 18, he joined the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way. It was through the involvement with this group that he felt his calling for the priesthood.” He was ordained a priest in 2004 in Newark, and served parishes, along with missions of the Neocatechumenal Way, in New Jersey and New York City. He became pastor at St. Brigid's in 2019. In addition to his parish and missionary work, Ortiz led Hispanic ministry initiatives in the Diocese of Brooklyn. He is remembered by friends as a fervent evangelist. The first cleric in the U.S. known to have died of the virus was Deacon John-Sebastian Laird-Hammond, OFM, who died March 20. Worldwide, more than 60 priests and at least one bishop have died of the virus. More than 100,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the US, and more than 1,700 have died. In the state of New York, which has become the epicenter of the pandemic of the virus in the US, more than 600 people have died.  
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