Titans’ tiny house project complete (Thu, 09 Jan 2020)
Students at Blessed Trinity High School recently completed construction of a tiny house. They began the project more than one year ago. The project was part of an effort by the Roswell school to
weave several subjects into school projects, linking religion and the arts to engineering and technology.
The post Titans’ tiny house project complete appeared first on Georgia Bulletin.
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Atlanta Catholics make 2020 spiritual resolutions (Thu, 09 Jan 2020)
Secular intentions like losing weight or stopping smoking rear their heads year after year. Faith-based resolutions also seem to stake out turf. They might be more demonstrable, such as going
to confession more, stepping up volunteer work, or more reflective of inner practices like concentrated prayer.
The post Atlanta Catholics make 2020 spiritual resolutions appeared first
on Georgia Bulletin.
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LaGrange assignment unforgettable experience for reporter (Thu, 09 Jan 2020)
Is it ever too late to try to right a wrong? Do you apologize for something done generations ago? That was the question faced by the police chief in LaGrange, Louis Dekmar. The chief in 2017
publicly apologized for a 1940 lynching in the community.
The post LaGrange assignment unforgettable experience for reporter
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 → >> 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
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 → >> Read more
Protect your health, physically and spiritually, pope says (Fri, 17 Jan 2020)
Pope Francis delivers the homily as he celebrates morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae at the
Vatican Jan. 17, 2020. (CNS/Vatican Media)
Jesus healed people of all sorts of physical ailments, but he always started with the essential — forgiving their sins, Pope Francis said.
"We should take good care of our bodies, but also our souls," the pope said Jan. 17, preaching about the Gospel of Mark's account of Jesus healing the paralytic.
"Jesus teaches us to go to what is essential," the pope said at morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. "What is essential is health, complete, body and soul."
Just like a person who is sick tries to find the right doctor to cure that ailment, he said, when a person's spiritual health is in danger, "we go to that physician who can heal us, who can
forgive our sins. Jesus came for this reason; he gave his life for this."
In the day's reading from the Gospel of St. Mark, a paralytic is hoping for physical healing, the pope said. But Jesus says to him, "Child, your sins are forgiven."
Only later does he tell the man to get up and walk.
"Physical healing is a gift, physical health is a gift that we must safeguard," the pope said. "But the Lord teaches us that we must safeguard the health of our hearts — our spiritual health — as
And, he said, the first step to any kind of healing is recognizing that one is unwell.
Simply saying, "Yes, yes, we are all sinners," isn't enough, the pope said. That just "waters down" the serious consequences of sin and the need for healing. "Today Jesus says to each of us, 'I
want to forgive your sins.'"
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Australian archbishop rejects breaking seal of confession for abusers (Thu, 16 Jan 2020)
Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, president of the Australian bishops' conference, gives the homily during
Mass at a meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 24, 2019. A six-person committee charged with reviewing church governance and management is expected to present
Australia's bishops with a plan to overhaul the management of the church in the country. (CNS/Maria Grazia Picciarella)
The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference is the latest of the country's senior clerics to push back against legislation to lift the seal of confession for child sexual
Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane made a submission to the Queensland state government opposing draft legislation that would see priests face up to three years in jail for failing to report
confessions of child sexual abuse to the police; the penalty would be five years for "failure to protect."
In his submission, Coleridge said a confession is between the penitent and God, and the priest's task is to enable that dialogue.
"The proposed legislation would make the priest at this vital point less a servant of God than an agent of the state," said Coleridge. "The mechanism within this legislation which deals with the
confessional seal quite simply will not make a difference to the safety of our young people."
Many priests have said they have never heard a confession from a child abuser, and some have noted that the psychopathy of many offenders is such that they do not believe they have done anything
In February 2019, Coleridge gave the homily at the closing Mass of the Vatican summit on child protection. He said the Catholic Church needs a true conversion that places survivors, and not the
institution, as the focus of its concern as it enacts measures to combat the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people.
Still, the prelate's insistence that the confessional should trump the state's laws has drawn a storm of protest on social media by Catholics and other Australians, concerned that the church is
still prioritizing traditions over child safety.
Others are concerned that the Catholic Church in Australia remains on probation after the damning finding of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Child Abuse and that the pushback from
Coleridge and others will be seen as evidence that the church remains clericalist at heart and is not doing enough to change.
The Queensland government is the latest of Australia's six states and two territories to propose such legislation, which comes in direct response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
From 2013 to 2017, the commission heard evidence that Catholic-run institutions were among the biggest offenders in scandals that reached back decades.
Last November, similar legislation was introduced in Victoria the state, home to the dioceses of Ballarat and Melbourne, which were at the epicenter of multiple child abuse scandals. Other states
and territories have all signaled intentions to introduce legislation to remove the legal shield from the confessional for child sexual offenses.
Coleridge's public opposition to laws tearing down any legal protection from the confessional follows similar statements made by Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher and Melbourne Archbishop Peter
The seal of confession has been an issue in other countries, too. For instance, in November, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse that Catholic
priests would die rather than break the seal of confession to report child abusers to the police.
"The history of the Catholic Church has a number of people who've been put to death in defense of the seal of confession," he said. "It might come to that."
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Pope speaks to U.S. bishops about pro-life issues, transgender ideology (Thu, 16 Jan 2020)
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., left, prays the Lord's Prayer as U.S. bishops from Iowa,
Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska concelebrate Mass in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Jan. 16, 2020. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican to report on the
status of their dioceses to the pope and Vatican officials. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Protecting human life is the "preeminent" social and political issue, Pope Francis said, and he asked the head of the U.S. bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities to convey his support to the
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the bishops' committee, told Catholic News Service Jan. 16 that the pope agreed with the U.S. bishops "identifying the protection
of the unborn as a preeminent priority."
"His response to that was, 'Of course, it is. It's the most fundamental right,'" Naumann recalled the pope saying. "He said, 'This is not first a religious issue; it's a human rights issue,' which
is so true."
Naumann was one of 15 bishops from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican in mid-January to report on the status of their dioceses. He and other bishops
spoke to Catholic News Service Jan. 16 after meeting with the pope for more than two hours.
Naumann said he told the pope that since the Roe v. Wade court decision legalized abortion, an estimated 61 million abortions have taken place in the United States.
"I think the pope was truly kind of stunned by that number," Naumann said. "Sadly, our abortion policies are one of the most liberal in the world. The fact is that it really is literally for all
nine months of pregnancy. Most other nations don't permit (abortions) at least at a certain point in the pregnancy."
Naumann said that while Francis has "elevated issues like the care of refugees and migrants," he also understands that the situation in the United States is different compared to other
"I think sometimes as he elevates those things, people mistakenly think, 'Well, that means that the abortion issue will become less important,'" he said.
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis told CNS it was "beautiful" when the pope explained why life was the number one, most important issue, "because if you're not alive you can't do anything
Carlson said they also talked about the importance of supporting pregnant women and making sure they have the resources they need to support that life.
While Francis "certainly talked about abortion as a preeminent issue," Carlson said, "at the same time he said there's another significant issue and that would be 'transgender' — where we are
trying to make all human beings the same, it makes no difference, you can be whoever you want to be."
The pope, he said, brought the issue up as an example of "another significant issue in our day."
Asked whether the pope then gave the bishops any advice on how to handle the transgender debate, Carlson said the pope touched on the way proponents believe people are "all one and that there's no
difference, which would fly in the face of what (St.) John Paul II talked about on complementarity and it would fly in the face of the dignity of the woman and the dignity of the man, that we could
just change into whatever we wanted."
Of course, he said, a pope or a bishop or any religious leader must focus on a variety of issues and concerns, but "there are some people who are one-issue people and so they're never satisfied if
you don’t focus totally on that."
The Catholic Church's positions are not partisan political positions, he said, since both Democrats and Republicans may not agree with its position on different issues.
"But I am not a Republican and I'm not a Democrat," Carlson said. "My job is to be a teacher of the faith and then to walk the talk."
Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, said that on the issue of abortion, Francis "simply reiterated what he's already said in many different ways," which is that "without life,
what other rights are there? So, you have to begin with that. It's not the only issue — I don't think anybody has ever said that. But when you're looking at the core beliefs and the more essential
rights, the right to life of the unborn is very important."
The pope, he said, "put it in a very beautiful way: Do we always want to simply eliminate those who are inconvenient? And, unfortunately, that's part of our culture in the United States — the
practice, the habit, if you will, of just eliminating the uncomfortable, the unwanted, as the solution. And we're called to be better than that. We as a country are better than that."
When the U.S. bishops say, "the right to life is the 'preeminent issue'" in Catholics' political concerns, "that word is carefully chosen," McKnight said. "Because we want to avoid the perspective
or the understanding that it's the only issue — because it is not."
Catholic voters, he said, need to be aware of a more general tendency or temptation "to get rid of unwanted people," whether they are the unborn or the aged, immigrants or the poor. "There is a
certain consistency that is required of us as Catholics."
McKnight said that during the meeting, he thanked Francis for expanding the section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that investigates clerical sexual abuse.
It was clear during the discussion how much the clerical sexual abuse crisis "pains the Holy Father," he said. "He reiterated that this must be dealt with, it's a crime, it can't just be swept
under the rug or dealt with only in the confessional — no, it's a crime."
The bishop said the question of the Vatican's promised report on the case and career of Theodore E. McCarrick, the former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, was brought up by one of the
"I must respect the confidential nature of our conversation today," McKnight said. "I can just say I am very confident the pope is doing everything he can in order to rectify the problem and to
help the entire church learn from the mistake of McCarrick's promotion in the church. The Holy Father sees that, he recognizes that McCarrick's promotion as archbishop of Washington should never have
(Contributing to this story were Junno Arocho Esteves, Carol Glatz and Cindy Wooden.)
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Judge blocks Trump's order on state refugee resettlement (Thu, 16 Jan 2020)
A federal judge in Maryland issued a preliminary injunction Jan. 15 blocking the Trump administration from enforcing an executive order that would allow state and local government officials to
reject resettling refugees in their jurisdictions.
The judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, three faith-based resettlement agencies — HIAS, a Jewish organization; Church World Service; and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service — who said
their work would be directly impacted and harmed by the order.
In his 31-page decision, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte said the executive order could be seen as unlawful because it grants states and localities veto power that "flies in the face of clear
The judge also called for refugee resettlement to "go forward as it developed for the almost 40 years" prior to President Donald Trump's executive order, announced last September.
Ashley Feasley, director of policy for Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, echoed this sentiment, telling Catholic News Service that "refugee resettlement
will continue as it has before" based on available resources and family connections.
But she also acknowledged that the refugee resettlement process has taken a hit. "Everything is in flux," she said just after the injunction was issued, and she pointed out it would likely be
appealed by the Trump administration.
One sentence from the order that stood out for her was Messitte's assertion that the order goes against the intent of Congress as per its 1980 Refugee Act.
The judge said Trump's executive order "appears to run counter to the Refugee Act's stated purpose, which is to provide 'comprehensive and uniform provisions for the effective resettlement and
absorption of those refugees who are admitted.'"
He also noted that giving states and localities veto power over refugee resettlement "raises a serious matter of federal preemption under the Constitution."
The judge said he agreed with the plaintiffs' claim that their work would be harmed by the executive order, and he said he also was convinced they would be able to demonstrate the order is
"arbitrary and capricious" as well as "susceptible to hidden bias."
He concluded by saying the order "does not appear to serve the overall public interest."
The three refugee advocacy groups filed the lawsuit against the executive order with the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, last November. The groups are among nine national agencies that
have agreements with the federal government to provide housing and other services for refugees, including the USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services, which in partnership with its affiliates,
resettles about 30% of the refugees that arrive in the U.S. each year.
Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, called the ruling a "win for the rule of law and for all refugees and the communities that welcome
"We know the fight isn't over," she added in a statement, but she said the refugee advocacy groups are "confident that the Constitution — and, as the last few months have proved, the country — are
on our side."
She said LIRS and its colleagues have been working on the local, state and national level to "successfully resettle refugees for decades, and we plan to continue doing just that."
Trump's executive order issued last fall, said state and local officials in any jurisdiction had veto power over refugee resettlement after June 2020, if they make their decision on this public by
To date, governors in 42 states have said they will accept more refugees. Governors from five remaining states that accept refugees — Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and South Carolina —
had not yet responded to the deadline.
Texas was the first state to reject the resettlement of new refugees, announced by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in a Jan. 10 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In statements and Twitter posts,
the state's Catholic bishops urged him to reconsider.
The Texas Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state's bishops, said the move to "turn away refugees from the great state of Texas" was "deeply discouraging and disheartening."
In a Jan. 10 statement, the conference said it "respects the governor" but said his decision in this case was "simply misguided" because it "denies people who are fleeing persecution, including
religious persecution, from being able to bring their gifts and talents to our state and contribute to the general common good of all Texans."
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Rome-brokered peace deal increases chances of papal visit to South Sudan (Thu, 16 Jan 2020)
Pope Francis kisses the feet of South Sudan President Salva Kiir April 11, 2019, at the conclusion of a two-day
retreat at the Vatican for African nation's political leaders. The Rome-based Sant'Edigio Community brokered peace talks between the government of South Sudan and some opposition leaders in Rome Jan.
11 and 12, 2020, and an agreement took effect Jan. 15. (CNS/Vatican Media via Reuters)
A newly brokered peace deal between the government of South Sudan and opposition leaders increased the chance of a papal visit to the African nation.
The agreement signed in Rome Jan. 13 was significant because it involved opposition leaders who had not signed previous peace deals, said John O'Brien, country representative for Catholic Relief
Services in South Sudan.
The Rome-based Sant'Edigio Community brokered the talks in Rome Jan. 11 and 12, and the agreement took effect Jan. 15. Signers included representatives of the government and the South Sudan
Opposition Movements Alliance.
Pope Francis and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, have said they would travel together to South Sudan if the country's leaders fulfill
their promise to form a transitional government by late February.
The joint trip to South Sudan has been a hope of both Francis and Welby since 2016, when South Sudanese leaders of the Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian churches visited them to explain the
ongoing tensions in South Sudan. Last April, in an effort to encourage peace, Francis and Welby hosted South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and four of the nation's would-be five vice presidents for a
retreat at the Vatican. At the end of the retreat, Francis knelt at their feet, begging them to give peace a chance and to be worthy "fathers of the nation."
South Sudan's war, which broke out in 2013, two years after the country achieved independence, has left nearly 400,000 dead and displaced nearly 4 million people.
Under the terms of a peace agreement signed in September 2018, South Sudan's vice presidents were to take office together last spring, sharing power and ending the armed conflict between clans and
among communities. The formation of the government was delayed until Nov. 12, but just five days before the deadline, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar announced a
further delay until February. This was agreed to by international leaders.
In the agreement signed Jan. 13 in Rome, the South Sudanese said they were "humbled by the relentless spiritual and moral appeal for peace, reconciliation and fraternity by Pope Francis" and other
Barnaba Marial Benjamin, head of the government delegation, told Vatican Radio the leaders could feel the spirit of Francis in the room as the agreement was being discussed.
He told Vatican Radio leaders must find solutions to crucial questions regarding elections, boundaries, good governance, accountability for crimes committed, transparency in the management of
resources in the country and fighting corruption.
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Buffalo administrator: Catholic Charities donations will not go to abuse settlements (Fri, 17 Jan 2020)
Buffalo, N.Y., Jan 17, 2020 / 07:19 pm (CNA).- The apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Buffalo said this week that despite the
possibility the diocese could file for bankruptcy protection to settle over 200 lawsuits related to sexual abuse, donations made to Catholic Charities this year will be used to help the needy rather
than to pay for lawsuits.
“All of the money that we are collecting is going toward immediate goals. We’re not talking about years down the line. We’re talking about right now. They are immediate and must be met, so we
continue the campaign to meet those goals...The last thing we want to do is in any way to curtail the services because the needs are real,” Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany said Tuesday as
reported by the Buffalo News.
Catholic Charities of Buffalo announced Jan. 14 the launch of its 2020 appeal, with a goal of $10 million – $1 million less than last year’s goal. Programs and services provided by Catholic Charities
benefited more than 160,000 people in 2019, the group reported.
Last year, Catholic Charities of Buffalo raised $9.5 million, $1.5 million short of their goal.
Buffalo's Bishop Richard Malone resigned in December 2019 after more than a year of calls for his resignation, amid accusations that he mishandled abuse cases in the diocese.
The recent enactment of the Child Victims Act in New York expanded the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse survivors to file lawsuits and a one-year filing window for suits related to
To date, the Buffalo diocese has been hit with more than 225 lawsuits, the Buffalo News reports. In the days following his appointment as apostolic administrator, Scharfenberger indicated that he
would not rule out bankruptcy as an option to settle the lawsuits.
The Diocese of Buffalo shut down its credit cards last September, and although some have interpreted the move as a step towards bankruptcy, officials said the decision was unrelated to the scandals
and lawsuits affecting the diocese.
Scharfenberger said Tuesday that even if the diocese does file for bankruptcy, contributions to the 2020 Catholic Charities appeal would not be affected because a Chapter 11 reorganization would take
years to complete, the Buffalo News reported.
In addition, Catholic Charities is separately incorporated from the Buffalo Diocese, which means its assets would not be in play in the case of the diocese declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which
would trigger an intense analysis of the diocese’s assets to determine what could be used to pay settlements, The Buffalo News reports.
In the past, about one-third of the funds raised during Catholic Charities’ appeal goes to Fund for the Faith, which is controlled by the diocese and is used for ministries such as diocese
communications, seminary training, and campus ministry, the Buffalo News reports.
For the second year, donors to Catholic Charities will have the option to give to the Appeal as in previous years, which benefits Catholic Charities and the Fund for the Faith; give to Catholic
Charities only; or give to the Fund for the Faith only.
In December, Catholic Charities announced Deacon Steve Schumer as the organization’s new President and CEO, effective Jan. 6, 2020.
“My understanding of the law is donor designated funds are donor designated. So, I tell people, in all honesty, yes, contribute your resources, and we’ll put them to work in the way you intend,”
Schumer told the Buffalo News.
In November 2018, a former Buffalo chancery employee leaked confidential diocesan documents related to the handling of claims of clerical sexual abuse. The documents were widely reported to suggest
Malone had covered-up some claims of sexual abuse, an allegation the bishop denied.
Six months later, in April 2019, Malone apologized for his handling of some cases in the diocese, and said he would work to restore trust. The bishop particularly apologized for his 2015 support of
Fr. Art Smith, a priest who had faced repeated allegations of abuse and misconduct with minors.
In August 2019, a RICO lawsuit was filed against the diocese and the bishop, alleging that the response of the diocese was comparable to an organized crime syndicate.
Recordings of private conversations released in early September appeared to show that Malone believed sexual harassment accusations made against a diocesan priest months before the bishop removed the
priest from ministry.
The contents of recordings of conversations between Malone and Fr. Ryszard Biernat, his secretary and diocesan vice chancellor, were reported in early September by WKBW in Buffalo.
In the conversations, Malone seemed to acknowledge the legitimacy of accusations of harassment and a violation of the seal of confession made against a diocesan priest, Fr. Jeffrey Nowak, by a
seminarian, months before the diocese removed Nowak from active ministry.
In an Aug. 2 conversation, Malone can be heard saying, “We are in a true crisis situation. True crisis. And everyone in the office is convinced this could be the end for me as bishop.”
The bishop is also heard to say that if the media reported on the Nowak situation, “it could force me to resign.”
On Oct. 3, the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC, announced that Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn had been asked to lead an apostolic visitation – and canonical inspection – of the Buffalo
diocese on behalf of the Congregation for Bishops.
That review concluded at the end of October, with DiMarzio having made three trips to Buffalo, and interviewing more than 80 people before submitting his report to Rome.
Scharfenberger has said that he was not given a clear mandate by the Vatican when he was appointed as apostolic administrator of the Buffalo diocese in December, and that he has not yet seen
Scharfenberger has emphasized that his position as apostolic administrator is by definition temporary, and the decision of who will ultimately lead the diocese is entirely up to the Holy See.
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Supreme Court will hear Little Sisters of the Poor case, again (Fri, 17 Jan 2020)
Washington D.C., Jan 17, 2020 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- The Little Sisters of the Poor will have their case heard before the Supreme Court
yet again in their years-long fight against the federal contraceptive mandate.
The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would hear oral arguments in the case of the sisters against the State of Pennsylvania, which challenged the order’s exemption from the contraceptive
“It is disappointing to think that as we enter a new decade we must still defend our ministry in court,” said Mother Loraine Marie Maguire of the Little Sisters of the Poor, in a statement on
“We are grateful the Supreme Court has decided to weigh in, and hopeful that the Justices will reinforce their previous decision and allow us to focus on our lifelong work of serving the elderly poor
once and for all,” she said.
“We are hopeful that this trip to the Supreme Court will be their last,” said Montse Alvarado, vice president and executive director of Becket, which represents the sisters in court.
The Little Sisters of the Poor is an order of religious founded in 1839 by St. Jeanne Jugan. Their mission is to care for the poor and the elderly in more than 30 countries.
Their case, Little Sisters of the Poor v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, stems from a lawsuit by the State of Pennsylvania against the exemption granted to the Little Sisters of the Poor to
the contraceptive mandate.
The sisters originally sued the federal government over the mandate that employers provide contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-causing drugs in health plans. The religious exemption that the
Obama administration originally granted was so narrow that the sisters, and many other religious non-profits were not eligible.
When the administration issued an accommodation for the objecting non-profits, the sisters and other religious entities, including Catholic dioceses and charities, still challenged it in court.
Under the revised procedure, the objecting parties would report their objection to the government, which in turn would notify the insurer or third-party administrator to provide the contraceptive
coverage anyway. The sisters said they would still be cooperating with the provision of morally objectionable drugs and procedures.
In 2016, the Supreme Court sent the case of the sisters and others back to the circuit courts, ordering the government and the objecting parties to come to an agreement respecting both the
administration’s goal of contraceptive coverage and the sisters’ wishes to be exempt from participation in it.
Then in October of 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a new rule protecting religious entities that objected to the mandate.
However, attorneys general for Pennsylvania and California challenged the rule in court, saying that the sisters and other objecting religious non-profits should not be exempt.
The Supreme Court held oral arguments in March of 2018 to determine if the sisters could intervene in the states’ lawsuits, which in April the Court said they could.
At the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the sisters lost their case against Pennsylvania in July of 2019, and appealed to the Supreme Court in October. The Court on Friday agreed to hear their
The sisters also lost their case against California’s lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit Court in October.
>> Read more
Catholic parish will not host Episcopalian consecration (Fri, 17 Jan 2020)
Richmond, Va., Jan 17, 2020 / 11:30 am (CNA).- The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia will no longer hold a bishops's
consecration at a Catholic parish in Williamsburg, after an internet petition objecting to the event drew national attention.
“It is with great sadness that I have received a letter from Bishop-Elect Susan Haynes stating that, due to the controversy of the proposed use of St. Bede Catholic Church for her consecration of the
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, she has decided to find another location for the ceremony to take place,” Bishop Barry Knestout of the Catholic Richmond diocese said in a Jan. 17
St. Bede Catholic Church is located within the Diocese of Richmond.
A statement from the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia said that the consecration will now take place at Williamsburg Community Chapel. The Williamsburg Community Chapel’s website states that it
is home to an “interdenominational family of faith.”
“The decision to change the location from St. Bede Catholic Church in Williamsburg arose out of concern and respect for the ministries and leadership of both the Catholic parish and the Catholic
Diocese of Richmond,” said the unsigned statement from the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, released Friday.
“Learning that its intended use of the building was causing dismay and distress, the Episcopal Diocese withdrew from its contract with St. Bede.”
The statement from the Episcopalian diocese cited 1 Corinthians 8, which warned against “pursuing behavior that might cause problems for others within their community.”
Episcopal Bishop-Elect Haynes wrote a letter to Knestout and Msgr. Joseph Lehman, pastor of St. Bede, announcing the decision to change the location and thanking them for their prior willingness to
host the event.
“I am writing to withdraw from our contract to use the lovely, holy space of St. Bede for my upcoming consecration as the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia,” said Haynes. “We
have so appreciated and admired your grace and courage in extending this hospitality and abiding by your invitation even under fire from those within your own flocks.”
Knestout had defended the decision to grant permission
to the Episcopal diocese to consecrate an Episcopalian bishop in the Catholic parish, citing various Vatican Council II documents on the importance of ecumenism and hospitality. Permission was first
granted to host the event within the parish church in December 2018, well before Haynes was elected as bishop.
In the statement, Knestout said that his diocese “look(s) forward to continuing our ecumenical dialogue with the Episcopal community, and to working with Bishop-Elect Haynes in fortifying the long
standing cordial relationship between our communities and our joint service to the poor.”
Knestout said that he would be praying for Haynes and the Episcopalians of the Diocese of Southern Virginia, and encouraged the Catholics in his diocese to pray for them as well.
“Pray that the fruits of the Holy Spirit, along with humility, kindness, gentleness and joy, be expressed and strengthened in all our faith communities,” he said.
The Episcopal Dioceses of Southern Virginia, Southwestern Virginia do not have a cathedral, and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, which covers the northern part of the commonwealth, has only a
“cathedral shrine.” Past episcopal ordinations for the Diocese of Southern Virginia have occurred either in Episcopal parishes or in other, non-Catholic, locations.
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'No international right to abortion' says HHS Secretary (Fri, 17 Jan 2020)
Washington D.C., Jan 17, 2020 / 10:30 am (CNA).- There is no international right to abortion, the U.S. health secretary told
officials from more than 30 countries on Thursday in Washington, D.C.
“I stated this fact at the United Nations this past September, and I'll repeat it here: there is no international human right to abortion. On the other hand, there is an international human right to
life,” Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, stated in remarks first reported by the Washington Times.
Azar addressed representatives from more than 30 other countries at the Blair House in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. Other U.S. and international officials addressed the audience, including Kellyanne
Conway, counselor to President Trump, Hungary’s Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs Katalin Novák, and the Deputy Chief of Mission Minister-Counselor Fernando Pimentel of Brazil.
Novak noted Azar’s remarks on abortion, on Twitter, and also said that Azar was the guest of the Hungarian Embassy to the U.S. on Wednesday, where he thanked Hungary and Poland for their
cooperation on life and family issues.
In September, Azar also said “there is no international right to an abortion” at a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Azar read a joint statement of the U.S. and 18 other countries before a high-level meeting on universal health coverage, where he said that “ambiguous terms,” including “sexual and reproductive
health and rights,” should be opposed in UN documents as they can be interpreted to undermine the family and push for abortion.
On Thursday, Azar encouraged the countries present to collaborate with the U.S. in fighting against abortion at upcoming international meetings including the World Health Organization’s board meeting
in Geneva, the meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN headquarters in New York, the World Health Assembly in Geneva, and the UN General Assembly in New York.
“Thank you for taking a courageous stand with us for the unborn. Thank you for standing up for the idea that every life has value. And thank you for making clear that national sovereignty is not a
vague or old fashioned concept, but the most important duty for each of us as leaders in our respective governments,” Azar said.
The venue for Thursday’s gathering, the Blair House, has a history of diplomacy, Azar said, as it hosted discussions between President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston
Churchill in 1941, at the outset of World War II, to produce the Atlantic Charter.
“The Atlantic Charter highlighted the need for greater cooperation and collaboration, and emphasized that each nation has a sovereign right to self-determination,” Azar said. “These same principles
came to undergird the work of the institutions that play a role in our modern world, including the United Nations and affiliated agencies like the World Health Organization.”
“These organizations were founded to protect human rights, defend the vulnerable, and give voices to all nations,” he said. “So it is fitting that we are gathered here, in this historic diplomatic
setting, to take the next steps in our work to make these organizations live up to their founding ideals.
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Washington DC clears out homeless camp, breaking up community (Fri, 17 Jan 2020)
Washington D.C., Jan 17, 2020 / 08:01 am (CNA).- A homeless encampment in Washington, DC, was permanently dismantled on Thursday, in
a move the city said was designed to better improve the safety of the city’s sidewalks.
One former resident told CNA that he believes the dismantling was necessary, and he blames the city for letting the encampment escalate to the point of being out of control.
The encampment, located beneath the K Street NE train bridge, is one of three located on the city’s K, L, and M streets in the northeast quadrant of the city. It was cleared out at 10 a.m. on
That afternoon, just one tent--belonging to a woman who was placed in a psychiatric hold earlier that morning out of fear she was going to harm herself--remained, along with scattered
Most of the former K Street residents have migrated to one of the other encampments nearby. One of those residents, Mike Harris, spoke to CNA about why he chose to move to L Street and why he thought
it was “necessary” for the city to clean out his former street.
Harris said that he had lived for about eight months on K Street, and during that time, the conditions in the area had gotten continuously worse. Harris, who uses a wheelchair, said that he had been
unable to navigate the sidewalks due to the size, placement, and number of tents, as well as the presence of lawn chairs in front of the tents.
He said he empathized with the people who complained about being unable to push strollers or even walk on the sidewalks due to the presence of tents.
Harris said that while he was not sure it was necessary to permanently shut down the encampment, he did think it needed to be addressed, as the situation had deteriorated in recent
Harris laid blame at the city for how K Street had changed. He told CNA that when he first moved to K Street, the city had been enforcing various regulations and laws regarding the placement and size
of tents. That changed over time.
“I was there for two days and my tent got a warning,” said Harris. “I wasn’t even that far over.” He said that his neighbors, whose tents were blocking pedestrians from using the sidewalk, never
received similar warnings, even though their tents were in violation.
“[Now] 26 to 40 people who lived under the K Street bridge got displaced because approximately five or six people didn’t want to abide by the rules,” said Harris. “Everybody had to suffer the
consequences of the actions of a few.”
Harris told CNA that he thinks the city of Washington wanted the encampment to become a “red flag situation” that would “justify the removal” of the tents. Hence, they stopped enforcing
Fr. Bill Carloni, the pastor at the nearby Holy Name of Jesus Parish, told CNA that he has been ministering to the homeless populations for about three years. His parish runs a food pantry and also
distributes lunches to the homeless on a weekly basis. Carloni told CNA he was concerned about what the future would hold for the former K Street residents.
“Unfortunately, I still don’t know what happens now,” Carloni told CNA. He said that over the last eight months, he had noticed a “significant increase” in the number of people living under the
“I think that more people are getting priced out of DC,” said Carloni. “I mean, we see another element of it where more people are coming looking for emergency rental assistance because they can no
longer afford the rents and they are on the verge of becoming homeless.”
Carloni said there is no “typical” resident of the homeless encampments, and that they ranged in age, health, and reasons for homelessness. Many suffer from mental illness. He said that while there
was a reputation for danger and crime in the encampment, Carloni said he’d “never felt threatened” or been mistreated.
As a pastor, Fr. Carloni said that he worries about the people he ministers to on the streets, and when the encampments are cleaned out, he has to work hard to track everyone down to ensure they are
doing okay. While Carloni was concerned that there would be conflict due to the melding of the various encampments, Harris said that there was none of that thus far.
“I’ve found [the homeless population on K Street] to be amicable and kind of community oriented, like I know a lot of them, that they care for each other,” Carloni said.
“They like to eat together as a community and they like to share.”
Harris confirmed this. As he spoke to CNA, other residents of L Street were helping him to move his belongings into his tent. He said there were plans to construct a community table on the street,
where the residents would gather for meals and fellowship.
There are imminent plans to install a generator on the street corner to provide electricity to charge phones--something that Harris said is crucial in the job search that might lead to getting off
the street. This generator was purchased with money that was crowdfunded.
Harris said that he had been homeless for about a year, and had lived in the city’s homeless shelters before making the move to K Street. He told CNA that he much preferred life on the streets to
life in the shelters.
Life in the shelters, said Harris, was over-regulated and no safer than living in a tent.
“[The shelters] are nothing to write home about,” he said. “There’s violence, there’s germs, there’s disease, physical altercations, and a lot of stuff that you have to deal with living in such close
On the street, he said, there are no set times to check in or leave, and there is more privacy and divided up space amongst residents. In the DC shelters, people sleep on cots or bunk
“There are benefits of being out here. There’s some shortfalls, too,” he said, noting that he recently had a tent stolen from him when it was packed up. “And I’ve had a backpack stolen too, but I’ve
had stuff stolen at shelters too.”
“Yeah, it’s bearable. It’s much more bearable than an institutionalized shelter-type situation,” said Harris.
Harris will not be spending much more time on the streets. He received a housing voucher, and had there not been a “signature snafu,” he would already have moved into an apartment by now. He told CNA
that he has a “great support team,” and that he regularly attends Bible study, church services, and a men’s group.
It was these influences which helped him to keep his faith during his time being homeless, and he hopes to one day to help others in his situation, as “some of the people out here who are chronically
homeless, they lose hope, drive, motivation, courage and faith.”
“I’ve got a network of positive-minded individuals that’s helping me weather the storm, and I’m going to try to encourage other people who are currently homeless to do the same thing,” he said.
He urges his associates on the streets to “develop a network, a support group, a support team. Someone that can call and check in on, come by, see if you’re doing alright.”
“Just to let you know that someone cares [about you] means a lot.”
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