Knights of Columbus Pope John Paul II Council 13808 Greensboro, GA
Knights of ColumbusPope John Paul II Council 13808Greensboro, GA
Scenes from the First Day of Remote Learning School (Thu, 13 Aug 2020)
Grind the coffee beans, measure the water, turn on the pot. Then to the oatmeal. A quick calculation of the ratio of oats to milk, when I picked up a 1/3 cup for measuring. Now to to wake the rising third grader. Wednesday’s routine felt familiar, but the day was not. The post Scenes from the First Day of Remote Learning School appeared first on Georgia Bulletin.
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A new lens for viewing the world and its interruptions (Wed, 12 Aug 2020)
We’ve all made self-promises that begin with “Someday when X happens, I’ll do Y…” Insert any aspiration into this axis of life: “When life slows down, I’ll write that book…” or “When (child’s name here) is older, we’ll take that trip…”   The post A new lens for viewing the world and its interruptions appeared first on Georgia Bulletin.
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Atlanta Catechist Conference goes virtual on August 22 (Tue, 11 Aug 2020)
Those who work or volunteer in religious education are invited to attend the virtual Atlanta Catechist Conference (ACC) on Saturday, Aug. 22. The theme for the conference is, “Abide in His Love–Hand it On!”  The post Atlanta Catechist Conference goes virtual on August 22 appeared first on Georgia Bulletin.
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Lebanon’s Catholic leaders seek help; here’s where to donate (Tue, 11 Aug 2020)
Catholic agencies are accepting donations to help the citizens of Lebanon following the devastating Aug. 4 port explosions in Beirut. The post Lebanon’s Catholic leaders seek help; here’s where to donate appeared first on Georgia Bulletin.
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Genius and grace: Flannery O’Connor’s Jesuit friend (Mon, 10 Aug 2020)
Most Southerners know who Flannery O’Connor was, although there is sometimes the odd exception. For example, when a friend recently mentioned her name, the response was: “Who was he?”  The post Genius and grace: Flannery O’Connor’s Jesuit friend appeared first on Georgia Bulletin.
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Now is time to build new world without inequality, injustice, pope says (Sun, 19 Apr 2020)
By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service ROME (CNS) — As the world slowly recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a risk it will be struck by an even worse virus — that of selfish indifference, Pope Francis said. This … Continue reading →
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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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Iowans who have completed sentence for felony conviction can now vote (Thu, 13 Aug 2020)
Davenport, Iowa 20200812T1530-IOWA-VOTING-RIGHTS-FELONS-1003605.JPG Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, center, appears with Betty Andrews, left, of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, and other supporters of an executive order that restored voting rights to individuals who have completed sentences for felony convictions Aug. 5, 2020. (CNS photo/courtesy The Catholic Messenger) More than 40,000 people in Iowa who have completed sentences for felony convictions have regained the right to vote and run for office because of an executive order signed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. The Aug. 5 executive order excludes individuals convicted of homicide, who must apply separately for restoration of voting rights. Iowa had been the only state in the nation that permanently stripped voting rights from people with a felony conviction. The Iowa-Nebraska NAACP State Area Conference provided the estimate of citizens who regained voting rights and worked with the governor to make that right a reality. An amendment to the state constitution would make it permanent. "The NAACP fervently believes that the right to participate in the political process is a defining aspect of citizenship and our democracy here in Iowa and America," Betty C. Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, said in a news release. The governor's action "is an act of tremendous significance to Iowans, to those whose right to vote is being restored, to be sure, but also to their families, and to all of us," she said. "Today we take a significant step forward in acknowledging the importance of redemption, second chances and the need to address inequalities in our justice system," Reynolds, a Republican, said in her news release. "The right to vote is the cornerstone of society and the free republic in which we live. When someone serves their sentence, they should have their right to vote restored automatically," she said. "We're going to continue to advocate for a constitutional amendment and make this major milestone permanent. Getting things done involves coming to the table and I want to thank the broad and diverse coalition who has been working on this with me for years." The Iowa Catholic Conference also advocates for a constitutional amendment, which failed to advance at the end of this year's legislative session. The executive order restored the right to vote, but a future governor could rescind that right. // Advertisement Advertisement 20200812T1345-IOWA-VOTING-RIGHTS-FELONS-1003596.JPG A U.S. Postal Service mailbox is seen in this illustration photo. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an executive order Aug. 5, 2020, restoring the rights of voters who have completed felony sentences. (CNS photo/Reuters/Leah Millis) "Iowa is the only state that by law permanently strips people who have a felony conviction of their right to vote," said Tom Chapman, executive director of the Catholic conference, the public policy voice of Iowa's bishops. The conference "continues to support a state constitutional amendment to end lifetime disenfranchisement in Iowa." Chapman expressed appreciation for Reynolds' executive order. He noted it requires payment of restitution, but not full payment before a returning citizen has the right to vote. Bishop Thomas R. Zinkula of Davenport said the executive order is "a good interim solution" while pursuing passage of a constitutional amendment. "Returning the right to vote promotes the civic engagement of those reentering the community. We are called to support, not obstruct, that reintegration and restoration, for the benefit of all," the bishop said. "Civic participation is a moral obligation of our faith teaching, and exercising the right and responsibility of participating as voters is a key component," he said. "Restoring the right to those convicted of a felony who have satisfied their debt is a measure of mercy, but also dignity and justice." The executive order requires Iowans to complete prison, probation, parole or special sentence. Andrews said projections indicate about 4,000 individuals each year will have their rights restored through the executive order. "This action will benefit people regardless of race or ethnicity, but with the grave racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it will very significantly benefit African Americans and other people of color," Andrews said. "As the late, beloved Rep. John Lewis passionately urged us to understand, 'The right to vote is precious, almost sacred ... the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society to create a more perfect union.'' She urged the thousands of individuals now eligible to vote to register so that they can participate in the November elections. Iowa also has same-day registration. Stephen Edwards, a Catholic who lives in Davenport, is among Iowans who regained their voting rights. Convicted on a felony drug charge in 2012, he successfully completed drug court as an alternative to prison. He works at G and R Integration Services in Walcott and operates Stunning's Boxing Club in Davenport. He looks forward to exercising his civic duty. "I feel like I'm considered an American citizen again," he said.
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Teens hide in cellars: Aid official tells of conditions in eastern Ukraine (Thu, 13 Aug 2020)
Warsaw, Poland 20200812T1315-UKRAINE-CARITAS-CONDITIONS-1003570.JPG Local resident Nikolay Shuliga, 63, feeds pigeons outside his home in late July in the village of Vesele, Ukraine. The home was damaged during a conflict between militants of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and the Ukrainian armed forces. (CNS /Reuters/Alexander Ermochenko) A senior Catholic aid worker said humanitarian conditions are deteriorating in eastern Ukraine and urged Western governments and churches not to forget the continuing six-year conflict. "We thought we'd overcome war in Europe, but a whole growing generation here now knows only war — teenagers who look like teenagers everywhere, but will tell you how they routinely hide in cellars to escape gunfire," said Andrij Waskowycz, president of Caritas in Ukraine. He said with multiple world crises, officials of the Catholic charitable agency did not expect attention to stay focused on Ukraine, "but it's crucial European countries, institutions and churches continue showing solidarity with the Ukrainian people in its suffering." Waskowycz told Catholic News Service Aug. 11 that Caritas was active in the 290-mile buffer zone between the two sides, taking food, home care and medical services especially to elderly people "abandoned without help." However, he added that supplies had been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and drinking water was also running short because of infrastructure damage. "Eastern Ukraine now has the highest concentration of old people in a conflict zone, with all the physical and mental health consequences," Waskowycz said. "It's also one of the world's most mine-contaminated areas, with land mines still being sown widely before the cease-fire. With transportation deteriorating during the coronavirus, most people see little hope of change." "Caritas is trying to deliver humanitarian aid to both sides, but this is very difficult since we cannot cross the contact line and have to rely on trucks from the United Nations and Red Cross," he added. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported continuing violations of the July 27 cease-fire between Ukrainian government and rebel forces. The cease-fire had raised hopes for reviving a 2015 peace plan, which would restore Ukrainian control over separatist-held Donetsk and Luhansk in return for self-rule. However, Waskowycz said OSCE monitors had reported 257 cease-fire violations up to Aug. 11. More than 14,000 soldiers and civilians have died from fighting and shelling in eastern Ukraine since 2014, according to the United Nations. In a July report, the U.N. Office for Coordinating Humanitarian Affairs confirmed basic services remained severely disrupted in eastern Ukraine, raising the number of people in need to 3.8 million, close to a tenth of the country's population. Fr. Igor Yatsiv, information director of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, told CNS Aug. 5 his church had prayed for peace throughout the war, but believed any accord "must be based on justice and reparations, not mass killing." A leader of Ukraine's smaller Roman Catholic Church said the cease-fire had made a "powerful invasion" less likely, but added that Catholic parishes close to the war zone remained "practically empty." "We are asking God for peace, and we've cautious hopes it will come," Bishop Pavlo Honcharuk of Kharkiv-Zaporizhia told CNS Aug. 5. "But experience also shows it's unwise to count on this, since there's simply no basis for trust." // Advertisement Advertisement
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Taize's New Year pilgrimage, exhibition of Shroud of Turin postponed (Thu, 13 Aug 2020)
Rome 20150622T0900-POPE-TURIN-672360.JPG Pope Francis touches the case holding the Shroud of Turin after praying before the cloth in 2015 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. The Taize New Year pilgrimage to Turin and the extraordinary exhibition of the Shroud of Turin for those pilgrims has been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNS/Paul Haring) Tens of thousands of young Christians from across Europe were expected to see in the New Year with chants and silent prayer, including before the Shroud of Turin. But the Dec. 28-Jan. 1 Taize pilgrimage to Turin has been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Marco Bonatti, who runs the official shroud website for the Archdiocese of Turin, confirmed Aug. 13 that with the postponement of the Taize pilgrimage, the extraordinary display of the shroud also was postponed. Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, other Christian leaders in the city and the France-based Taize ecumencial community announced Aug. 12 that the pilgrimage would be postponed to December 2021. It will be the first time since the New Year pilgrimage began in 1978 that the event was not held. In recent years, depending on the city chosen to host the European event, between 10,000 and 45,000 Christians aged 16-35 would gather for fellowship and, especially, the distinctive Taize prayer, which mixes Bible readings and long periods of absolute silence with simple songs using phrases from the Psalms repeated over and over. The Archdiocese of Turin and the local Waldensian, Baptist, Romanian Orthodox, Lutheran and Adventist churches began planning the event in 2017. And the archdiocese, which is the custodian of the shroud, announced in January that it would include a special display of the shroud just for pilgrimage participants. The 14-foot-by-4-foot linen shroud has a full-length photonegative image of a man, front and back, bearing signs of wounds that correspond to the Gospel accounts of the torture Jesus endured in his passion and death. The Catholic Church has not recognized it officially as the burial cloth of Christ, but recent popes have referred to it as an "icon" of Jesus. Kept in a metal case in a chapel in the Turin cathedral, the shroud is put on public display only occasionally. The last public exhibition was in 2015, but in April Nosiglia led a livestreamed prayer service in front of the shroud as part of a Holy Saturday prayer for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. Announcing the postponement of the Taize gathering, the Archdiocese of Turin said, "Uncertainty about the possibility of contagion, now and in the coming months, is an important element, but not the only one" influencing a decision to move the event back one year. The pilgrimage "must take place in conditions of serenity and security for all," including the thousands of families in Turin and throughout the Piedmont region who were going to host pilgrims, the statement said. One more year of preparation will allow that to happen. // Advertisement Advertisement
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Executive actions seen providing minimal boost to economy hit hard by COVID-19 (Wed, 12 Aug 2020)
Cleveland 20200811T1145-TRUMP-EXECUTIVE-ACTIONS-REACTION-1003529.JPG Amanda Geno, of Holyoke, Mass., poses for a photo outside her home Aug. 5, 2020. She has been unemployed since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS/Reuters/Faith Ninivaggi) The coronavirus relief measures put in place by President Donald Trump Aug. 8 are not expected to provide significant relief to people most in need of assistance because of the pandemic-induced recession, political observers said. While rooted in law, they explained, the steps undertaken by the president are limited in scope and some may face court challenges because they upend the taxing and budgetary mandates explicitly given to Congress by the Constitution. Trump's actions in a trio of memoranda would postpone payment of federal payroll tax, offer new unemployment benefits, and seek to protect renters and homeowners from eviction. A fourth measure, outlined in an executive order, extends the deferral on the payment of federal student loans, but not privately issued loans. Critics in Congress, business, education, the legal field and some state governors have argued that Trump's orders are legally suspect and fiscally unsound. John K. White, professor of politics at The Catholic University of America, described Trump's effort as an "illusion of progress." Supporters, however, said the measures are designed to support Americans facing massive economic upheaval. Trump said he acted after negotiations between Democratic congressional leaders and the White House on a new federal emergency pandemic relief collapsed Aug. 7. Another aid bill is widely seen as necessary because several measures in earlier legislation, such as the $600 a week unemployment insurance payment, expired July 31. The bill would succeed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which prevented millions of Americans from falling into poverty as the coronavirus began spreading nationwide in spring. "These orders sounded more important than they turned out to be in practice," Boris Heersink, assistant professor of political science at Fordham University, wrote in an email to Catholic News Service. Heersink and others raised concern that the payroll tax deferment would benefit only those people who continue to work and would do little to aid the 30 million workers who remain off the job because of the pandemic. "You're talking about millions of unemployed people who are not going to feel any tax relief from that executive action. You look at that and say it's unlikely to contribute to an economic rebound," White explained. Trump's plan to defer the payment of payroll taxes from September until January for workers earning $104,000 or less annually means that people eventually still will have to pay them. The 6.2% payroll tax supports entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. The president said at a signing ceremony at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, that if he were to be reelected he would forgive the amount of back taxes owed by workers and seek to implement a permanent tax cut. However, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have long opposed any such tax deferment or permanent tax cut related to Social Security and Medicare, which are already facing critical long-term funding shortfalls. Michael Moreland, director of the Eleanor H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy at the Villanova University law school, told CNS that while the president's ability to defer tax payments is defined in law, Trump's action "does not cancel the obligation (of businesses) for collecting the taxes." "It puts the employers in a difficult situation. They'll continue withholding in order to reconcile (with the government) once the deferment is lifted," said Moreland, who worked on the domestic policy staff in the White House under President George W. Bush. At Catholic Charities USA, Anthony Granado, vice president of government relations, sees the possibility of deferring payroll taxes as not "having much of an impact on us or the (diocesan) agencies." 20200811T0721-228-CNS-HOUSING-EVICTION.JPG People in Mount Rainer, Md., stop an alleged eviction of one of the tenants by the landlord Aug. 10, 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS/Reuters/Leah Millis) Meanwhile, Trump's plan to provide $400 a week to people who remain out of work met with broader approval from observers. Still, they questioned whether the program would achieve its goals for more than a few weeks. Under the action, the federal government would provide $300 per week while states would kick in an additional $100 per week. The amount is on top of current unemployment insurance payments. In many parts of the country governors said their states could not afford the additional payment. "There's two important issues with the state part of it. One is whether or not the state could afford it and whether or not the states would do it if they could. Those two things make it unlikely that states were going to fully comply," said Jim Sullivan, professor of economics and co-founder of the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities at the University of Notre Dame. Moreland again described Trump's plan for unemployment benefits as "tricky" because of the dire financial conditions facing the states. He was unsure states will accept the federal funding because they "have to request the aid and kick in the other quarter." States not seeking the funds, however, would be "in a tough spot, saying 'we're not going to ask for relief for people facing unemployment,'" Moreland said. Sullivan added that states will have to establish a new program to disburse the funds. "It's going to add another layer of complexity. Even if states were able and willing to comply there might be considerable delays in getting these payments out," Sullivan told CNS. Some state officials, such as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, said they would accept funds to implement the $300 payments alone, a step Trump said was possible. The president planned to tap the $44 billion in federal disaster relief funds appropriated for hurricanes and wildfires to pay for the new unemployment insurance allotments. Analysts said the amount would cover unemployment insurance at the current rate of expenditure for about five weeks. Using funds earmarked for disaster response could face a legal challenge on constitutional grounds from Democrats in the U.S. House, who maintain that only Congress can set budgets and amend how funds are spent. Granado welcomed the effort to help the unemployed. "Obviously, the greater the benefit, the greater the assistance to those who are unemployed," he told CNS. Still, he said, legal issues may block the benefit from actually taking effect. Trump's executive actions on the eviction moratorium hold greater promise. But observers noted the language in the president's memo only asks the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to "consider" what steps they can take to keep people in their homes. An eviction moratorium put in place by earlier legislation after the pandemic emerged has expired, leaving people unable to make rent or mortgage payments vulnerable to being forced out of their homes at present. Catholic Charities USA's Granado said the moratorium is necessary to prevent people from becoming homeless. The agency, he said, has pushed for a new moratorium in the bill currently being negotiated. "We have been asking for a moratorium off at least a year. If the administration can support that in some way or help strengthen that, that would be great," Granado said. The executive order on students loans has proven to be the least controversial of all the actions Trump took. It applies only to federal student loan borrowers and simply delays payment rather than forgive the loan entirely, Heersink explained. "The order excludes private loans," he said, "so people who have student loans not through the federal government still have to pay." // Advertisement Advertisement
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Pandemic has revealed how often human dignity is ignored, pope says (Wed, 12 Aug 2020)
Vatican City 20200812T0730-POPE-AUDIENCE-DIGNITY-1003562.JPG Pope Francis leads his general audience in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican Aug. 12, 2020. The pope said the coronavirus pandemic has shed light on other "more widespread social diseases." (CNS/Vatican Media) The coronavirus pandemic has shed light on other, "more widespread social diseases," particularly attacks on the God-given human dignity of every person, Pope Francis said. "The pandemic has highlighted how vulnerable and interconnected we all are. If we do not take care of each other, starting with the least — those who are most affected, including creation — we cannot heal the world," the pope said Aug. 12 at his weekly general audience. Francis had announced a week earlier that he would begin a series of audience talks about Catholic social teaching, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The audience, which was livestreamed from the library of the Apostolic Palace, began with a reading from the Book of Genesis: "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." The dignity of the human person, the pope said, is the foundation of Catholic social teaching and all its attempts to apply Gospel values to the way people live and act in the world. Francis said that while there are many "heroes" who are caring for others during the pandemic, even at the risk of their own lives, the pandemic also has revealed economic and social systems influenced by a "distorted vision of the person, a gaze that ignores the person's dignity and relational character" by seeing others as "objects, objects to be used and discarded." Such an attitude is contrary to the faith, he said. The Bible clearly teaches that God created every person with "a unique dignity, inviting us into communion with him, with our sisters and brothers (and) with respect for all creation." "As disciples of Jesus," he said, "we do not want to be indifferent or individualistic — two ugly attitudes, which are against harmony. Indifferent, I look the other way. And individualistic, 'only for me,' looking only at one's own interests." Instead, God created human beings "to be in communion," the pope said. "We want to recognize the human dignity of every person, whatever his or her race, language or condition." Taking seriously the dignity of each person and recognizing the God-given gift of creation should give rise to both a sense of responsibility and a sense of awe, Francis said. But it also has "serious social, economic and political implications" for those who recognize that responsibility, he said. Francis urged people to continue working to contain the virus and find a cure, but said that in the meantime, "faith exhorts us to commit ourselves seriously and actively to combating indifference in the face of violations of human dignity." A "culture of indifference," he said, "accompanies the throwaway culture: things that do not affect me, do not interest me," and Catholics must counter such attitudes. "In modern culture, the closest reference to the principle of the inalienable dignity of the person is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," the pope said. After the audience, Francis held a private meeting with Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. // Advertisement Advertisement
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CNA Daily News - US

US Senator asks attorney general to fight anti-Catholic vandalism (Thu, 13 Aug 2020)
CNA Staff, Aug 13, 2020 / 04:09 pm (CNA).- A United States senator has asked the nation’s attorney general to intensify efforts to fight the vandalism that has been carried out against Catholic places and statues throughout the country in recent months. “The trend of desecrating Catholic spaces and property must stop,” U.S. Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) wrote in an August 11 letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr. “Catholics are under attack in America,” he said, referencing “at least nineteen attacks on Catholic churches, statues, businesses, cemeteries, parishioners, and personnel” since May. In recent weeks, several Catholic churches have faced attacks and acts desecration. Last month, church in Ocala, Florida was set aflame while parishioners inside prepared for morning Mass. A California mission founded by St. Junipero Serra was also burned in a fire and is being investigated as an arson case, while several statues of Serra have also been pulled down. A statue of the Virgin Mary was beheaded at a parish in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In Boston, a statue of Mary was set on fire, and in Brooklyn, a statue was tagged with the word “IDOL” in black spray paint. Other states, including Colorado and Missouri, have seen similar acts of vandalism. While some attacks on statues, most notably in California, have been committed in public by large groups with clear political affiliations, the perpetrators of other acts have not been identified, nor have motives been determined. “These crimes span from coast to coast and show no sign of ending,” Senator Kennedy said, noting that minority groups including Middle Eastern Christians who have fled their homelands to escape persecution have also been targeted. “Christians have historically been and continue to be one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world,” the senator said. “To escape religious oppression, the pilgrims took a treacherous journey across the Atlantic to America, setting the stage for the eventual creation of the United States.” America’s Founding Fathers believed religious liberty to be essential to the new nation, securing it with the First Amendment’s protections, Kennedy said. “We cannot let a handful of people destroy this fundamental right.” He asked Attorney General Barr to work actively to prosecute those responsible for recent acts of desecration, as well as to prevent further vandalism. “I am confident you will act swiftly and carefully in bringing an end to this injustice,” the senator concluded.
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Pro-life Democrats hail Minnesota primary win (Thu, 13 Aug 2020)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 13, 2020 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- One of the last remaining pro-life Democrats in Congress won a primary victory in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District on Tuesday. In contrast to the struggles faced by pro-life Democrat candidates in other parts of the country, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) defeated two primary challengers in the August 11 election, garnering 75% of the vote. He will face Republican Michelle Fischbach, who is the state’s former lieutenant governor, in the general election in November.  Peterson, who was first elected to Congress in 1990, narrowly won reelection in 2018 by a vote of 52 to 48 percent. The 7th District has been targeted by Republican campaigners, and is currently labeled a toss-up for November. The district voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.  Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) President Kristen Day told CNA that her organization was “delighted” at Peterson’s win. “He is an unusual species: a Democratic representative in a deep red district that overwhelmingly voted for Trump in 2016. He has an impressive record representing his constituents, especially farmers,” said Day.  Day pointed to Peterson’s victory as proof that “pro-life Democrats are on the rise,” and are “tired of being silenced, marginalized, and pressured to violate our conscience on a matter of human rights.” She said that DFLA is working to find candidates on local levels “who feel emboldened to speak out” about abortion.  “Stopping abortion extremism is urgent,” said Day. “Now is the time to save our Party.”  Peterson’s victory in the primary comes months after fellow pro-life Democrat, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) was defeated in a hotly contested primary battle against challenger Marie Newman in March. Newman made her support for abortion rights the centerpiece of her campaign.  Peterson and Lipinski were friendly during their time in Congress; in 2015, Peterson gave Lipinski his extra ticket to Pope Francis’ address. With Lipinksi’s primary loss, there are now fewer than five Democrats in Congress who identify as pro-life.  Day told CNA that she wishes to see the Biden campaign reach out to pro-life Democrats, who she says number 21 million people. “Vice President Biden, as a Catholic, should be willing to at least ask for our vote,” said Day. “Senator [Kamala] Harris, as a Baptist, should take the lead of her congregation, which encourages its members to ‘engage in meaningful dialogue on abortion with openness and Christian compassion.’”  The 2016 Democratic Party Platform included, for the first time, a plank advocating for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment prevents the use of taxpayer funding for abortions.  Biden counted himself among the bipartisan supporters of the Hyde Amendment for over 40 years before switching his view on the issue overnight in June 2019.
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USCCB official 'elated' over Harris, Biden's pro-choice VP pick (Thu, 13 Aug 2020)
Denver Newsroom, Aug 13, 2020 / 02:43 pm (CNA).-   An official at the U.S. bishops’ conference said Thursday that the selection of Senator Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s presidential running mate is good news that will offer policies favorable to marginalized people. “I was so elated. We, the community, need good news, and this was just wonderful,” Donna Toliver Grimes, associate director of African American affairs in the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, told Catholic News Service, the official news service of the U.S. bishops’ conference, on Wednesday. Grimes told CNS that Harris “wasn’t my top candidate in the primaries, and she wasn’t my top pick for vice president,” adding “she’s really deserving and brings a lot to the table.” Mentioning her belief that Biden and Harris will offer “policy that is favorable to people on the margins,” Grimes said she expects Biden “would put good people in his Cabinet, who would not damage the agencies, or ignore the mission.” Grimes, who was identified in the report by her USCCB position, also mentioned to CNS her hope that, if elected, Biden would address health care reform and voting-rights issues. A spokesperson for the U.S. bishops’ conference told CNA Aug. 13 that “The Conference is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization that does not endorse or oppose specific candidates for office. Comments by individual Conference employees are not necessarily a reflection of the Conference’s official position.” Grimes did not mention the issues on which Biden and Harris have clashed with U.S. bishops, among them conscience protections in healthcare policy, same-sex marriage, and, most frequently, abortion. Biden and Harris have pledged to restore currently restricted federal funding for abortion. Harris has previously pledged to use federal law to restrict state laws regulating or limiting abortion. Pope Francis has called abortion “inhuman eugenics,” urged its eradication, and said that the unborn are among those marginalized on the “existential peripheries,” for whom the Church must have special care. Nor did Grimes mention Harris’ 2018 questioning of a judicial nominee over his membership of the Knights of Columbus. In questions about the impartiality of nominee Brian Buescher, Harris asked if Buescher was aware that the Knights of Columbus “opposed a woman’s right to choose” and were against “marriage equality” when he joined. The senator’s remarks were subsequently criticized as anti-Catholic and one U.S. bishop, Archbishop Charles Chaput, characterized them as “bigoted.” Both Biden and President Donald Trump have been criticized by the U.S. bishops’ conference, with Trump frequently facing criticism for his immigration policies, use of the federal death penalty, and cuts to social safety nets. Last year, USCCB spokeswoman Judy Keane left the bishops’ conference after media reports said that she had tweeted in support of President Trump or in opposition to Democrats. Among Keane’s tweets was one that criticized Harris. Responding to a news story saying that Harris, then running for president, promised to raise teacher salaries, Keane wrote “She’ll be promising all kinds of things to get elected. Then she’ll raise taxes so hard-working Americans have to pay for it all. No thanks.” After Keane’s tweets first emerged into the spotlight, the spokeswoman was placed on leave, and shortly thereafter left the bishops’ conference. The conference has not said whether she was fired or left voluntarily. USCCB communications director James Rogers told the Washington Post at the time that “The bishops, not staff, set the conference’s federal policy positions.” “We should be mindful not to create confusion as to where the bishops might be on any particular federal policy issue. The conference is nonpartisan and does not endorse political candidates. We take this very seriously.” CNA asked the conference to provide its employee guidelines on political speech, but the conference has not yet done so.
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Denver archbishop praying for conversion after St. Jude statue beheaded (Thu, 13 Aug 2020)
Denver, Colo., Aug 13, 2020 / 01:33 pm (CNA).- After the statue of a saint was beheaded outside a Denver parish, the city’s archbishop said he’s praying for the conversion of those who have attacked churches and religious statues across the country in recent months. A statue of St. Jude was beheaded in the courtyard of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish this weekend, diocesan officials confirmed, and devotional candles were destroyed at an outdoor prayer shrine. “It is extremely disturbing to see a statue at one of our local parishes desecrated in this manner,” Archbishop Samuel Aquila told CNA Aug. 12. “As our archdiocese begins a Rosary Crusade this weekend, one of our specific intentions is to pray for the conversion of those who carry out acts of desecration against our churches, statues, and religious symbols.” Aquila’s crusade invites Catholics in his diocese to pray a daily rosary, beginning on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, Aug. 15, through the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows on Sept. 15. The archbishop asked that they pray for 15 distinct intentions, including for an end to the coronavirus pandemic and all those who have died of the virus, and end to abortion and euthanasia and attacks against life, as well as for peace, justice and an end to discrimination on the basis of race. In remarks to CNA, Aquila said “it is troubling to see the increased reports of vandalism at Catholic churches this summer, both across the county and in our archdiocese.” But the archbishop emphasized that, to date, “we are unsure of the motive behind this act and if it was a deliberate attack against the Church, or just a random act of vandalism.” Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, which mostly serves Denver’s Hispanic community, was in 2016 designated an archdiocesan shrine. Aquila named the parish a shrine “because of its service to the Hispanic population and with the purpose of promoting their salvation through the rich liturgical and devotional life that it offers to all the faithful,” he said in the official decree. The parish has made plans to increase its security after the statue was beheaded, archdiocesan officials told CNA. There has been a series of destructive acts at Catholic churches across the United States in recent months, including arsons, statue decapitations, and graffiti. But while some of the incidents have been caught on camera, in most cases the perpetrators, and their motivations have yet to be identified.  
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Nebraska passes dismemberment abortion ban  (Thu, 13 Aug 2020)
CNA Staff, Aug 13, 2020 / 12:52 pm (CNA).- The Nebraska legislature on Thursday passed a ban on dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions in the state, a move hailed by the Nebraska Catholic Conference. "Life has won today in Nebraska. By ending dismemberment abortion, our state has demonstrated and reaffirmed its deep respect for the human dignity of preborn children and their mothers,” said Marion Miner, Associate Director for Pro-Life and Family at the Nebraska Catholic Conference, on Aug. 13. “Passing LB814 will again establish Nebraska as a national leader in the cause for life. We are committed to affirming the humanity of every single life and making every form of abortion unthinkable." D&E abortions, commonly known as dismemberment abortions, are typically done in the second trimester of pregnancy and result in the dismemberment of an unborn child. State Sen. Suzanne Geist (District 25-Lincoln) introduced LB814 in January. Twenty-one state senators joined the legislation as co-sponsors upon its introduction, with another four joining later. The measure passed its first vote in Nebraska’s unicameral legislature on August 5 by a 34-9 vote. Multiple senators attempted to filibuster the bill at that point, but the bill earned the 33 votes necessary to break the filibuster as Geist moved to invoke cloture. The bill specifically bans the use of clamps, forceps or similar instruments in abortion procedures. On Aug. 13, the final vote stood at 33-8. State Sen. Carol Blood (3-Bellevue) abstained from voting after saying she had concerns that the ban would not apply if suction is used to remove pieces of a fetus, and nor would it apply if the fetus was killed before being removed, a process that Blood called equally horrific, according to the Omaha World-Herald. The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Pete Ricketts, who supports the ban, to be signed into law. According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, to date 11 states have passed bans on dilation and evacuation abortions, though because of courts blocking the measures, the bans in two states, Mississippi and West Virginia, are currently in effect, and an appeals court recently ruled to allow Arkansas’ ban to come into effect on Aug. 28. Opponents of the Nebraska bill have maintained that courts will deem the legislation unconstitutional under Roe v Wade. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson recently released an opinion, at the request of State Sen. Ernie Chambers, concluding that LB814 is "likely constitutional” because it “does not appear that it will impose a substantial obstacle on abortion access in Nebraska.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled last Friday to reinstate the 2017 Arkansas laws. They can take effect August 28, although they may still face legal challenge. The laws include a ban on abortions based solely on the sex of the baby, and two regulations on the preservation and disposal of tissue from aborted babies, as well as legislation prohibiting D&E abortions. A district judge had blocked the rules following a legal challenge from the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of a local abortion doctor. A federal judge during July 2019 blocked Indiana’s D&E ban from taking effect. In 2010, Nebraska became the first state to ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, citing evidence that unborn children feel pain.  
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